Huawei's recruitment in line with company’s, country’s development, says expert

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/4 17:15:37

Recruitment in line with company’s, country’s development, says expert

Graduates line up in Huawei's campus recruitment in Wuhan University of Central China's Hubei Province in this 2017 file photo. Photo: VCG

The competition for talent never subsides. The saying has been manifested in a recent news item that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has recruited eight fresh PhD students who were offered an annual salary of as high as 2 million yuan ($292,000).

The news quickly circulated online, with netizens admiring the eight young talents and discussing if high academic qualifications lead to high-paid jobs. It also prompted discussions on why Huawei invests that much in recruitment while at the center of contested international opinion. 

How talented are they?

In June, an internal Huawei email said that the company will recruit 20 to 30 talented youth worldwide with top salaries. Then in late July, a leaked email signed by Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei listed eight recruited PhD students graduating in 2019 together with their salaries. 

Among them, Zhong Zhao and Qin Tong will be paid the most, with an annual salary of between 1.82 million and 2 million yuan. The other six will be paid between 896,000 and 1.56million yuan, according to the email.

Zhong, a graduate from the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, does research in pattern recognition and smart systems. Media reports say he is part of the first group of people in China who are conducting neural architecture research. 

Qin graduated from the Robotics Institute of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He published several papers in top international journals including the IEEE Transactions on Robotics. 

The other six all graduated from China's top institutions, such as Tsinghua University and Peking University, with excellent academic performance since high school.

Huawei confirmed the email to the Global Times. Some of the eight newly employed PhDs reached by the Global Times refused to comment. Liu Chenglin, Zhong's supervisor, told the Global Times that Zhong's achievements in scientific research may not be the most outstanding compared to the other seven. But Zhong topped the list because his research focus - neural architecture research in deep learning - has been trending these past two years. 

"The academic circle is paying attention to it, and it's applicable in the industrial sector," Liu noted.

Preference for science PhDs 

Huawei's thirst for young talent is indispensible from China's development, analysts noted. 

China is in an era of scientific innovation and mobile internet. Thanks to China's population dividends, the internet sector, during its flourishing stage, targeted the consumer market, and the talent needed were application-oriented. Research-focused PhDs were not yet the driving force of the industry, said Luo Hao, chief technology officer of a start-up tech company based in Beijing.

Luo said since the country is promoting the internet+ formula to help boost traditional industries, research-focused talent, especially those working on artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and cloud computing are now favored by the market.

"As long as they fit Huawei's strategic development, Huawei does not mind the costs," Luo told the Global Times.

But Liu is cautious about the preference of companies for PhDs.

"On the one hand, some students may feel encouraged by the Huawei news. However, other students may be picky about their research direction in the future by deliberately choosing 'popular' subjects," Liu said, adding that the advantages of PhDs in the job market are not solely determined by the subject he or she chooses, but their basic knowledge, learning potential and effort.

With netizens amazed by Huawei's frenzy for talent, the issue of the high demission rate of PhDs in the company has also been brought up. 

Statistics revealed by Huawei earlier this year show that the demission rate of PhD employees in its research and development sector in the past five years reached as high as 21.8 percent, and less than 60 percent of PhDs stayed more than four years. 

The Huawei chairman's office has issued three emails on the problem of the talent outlows. The emails said their competence is far beyond the jobs' requirements. 

Huawei is determined to recruit more talent and retain them. It is now trying to manage PhD employees according to their specialization and competence and assigning them to more innovation-based and research-focused jobs.

A Huawei employee, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that his major is not popular but Huawei has invested in this field, which is relevant to Huawei's future development - building a reliable software system. The employee completed his PhD from a European University, majoring in formula methods.

The employee said Huawei's young talent recruitment policy makes the world see Huawei's eagerness for talent. And his reason for choosing Huawei? "The match of my major and Huawei's demand, a satisfying salary, and a good team," he said.

Huawei row

Coercive US policies against China since last year are redirecting trade flows and changing global supply chains. These policies, analysts believe, are embedded in the competition between China and the US in technological leadership. 

"Competition between China and the US eventually leads to competition in scientific strength, and the key is holding on to independent intellectual property rights of core technology," Liu told the Global Times, adding that China's innovation in basic software and core hardware, such as operation systems and chips, still lags behind the US.

Liu said Huawei's recruitment of the eight PhDs helps raise social awareness of respect for talent and knowledge, and will attract more people to the company, which is part of its strategy to promote technological innovation.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency in July, Huawei Senior Vice President Zhang Jiangang said the company will continue to make innovation the "core" of its strategy.

A PhD student from the same institute with Zhong told the Global Times that Zhong sets a good example for his fellow students and the controversy surrounding Huawei provide them opportunities and challenges. "We don't mind the debate, but are concerned about our career development, interest in the job and salary," he said.
Newspaper headline: Huawei goes on talent search spree

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