Nikko Chen’s agenda, supply chain director West Europe, Huawei

“Luckily I sleep well!”
Nikko Chen, supply chain director West Europe, Huawei Enterprise

Nine questions about the topics on the supply chain agenda of a supply chain professional.

By Helen Armstrong (Supply Chain Movement)

The Chinese information and telecommunications giant, Huawei, is well known among global telecom operators. Founded 24 years ago it has grow so fast its revenue in 2011 was US$34 billion and it was 347th in the Fortune 500 list. Now it plans to extend its telecom carrier network and conquer the industrial and consumer markets.
At the end of last year it set up Huawei Consumer Business Group, for handsets and tablets, and Huawei Enterprise business group for the industry telecommunication market.  With its focus on ICT infrastructures, Enterprise is dedicated to providing end-to-end solutions for multinational industrial customers involved in energy, transportation and finance as well as governments and hospitals etc.

Nikko Chen, joined Huawei over seven years ago and for the last three years was Logistics Director for Huawei Western Europe Group. He is now the newly appointed supply chain director for West Europe Enterprise. He has an ambitious task but he’s confident that within a few years Huawei will be a household name.

1. What is the strategy of the Enterprise business Group: Operational Excellence, Product Leadership or Customer Intimacy?

“The strategy of Huawei Enterprise, likes all Huawei business groups, is to enrich people’s communication with all our effort being customer driven. The foundation of our business is innovation based on high quality, low cost and high efficiency. Our aim is to be the leading company in this industrial sector in the next three to five years. Because we are a new player we have a lot of advantages: We have tremendous experience in the telecom market, and we can learn from and avoid the pitfalls made by the industry over the last 30 years.

We want to find our own special way of becoming market leader. We are working hard on this and it can be through innovation in products, service or even our commercial model. It’s important that we know exactly what our customers want. We are in a position to respond quickly and be flexible with our products and solutions.”

2. What is your responsibility regarding the supply chain?

“Since the start of this year I have been in charge of the West European supply chain for the new global Enterprise business group.  My role covers all the western European supply chain functions, including planning, order management, supply chain key account management, logistics, procurement and supply chain strategy management.  I am leading an intelligent and inspired team. All the team members are supply chain managers with their own teams in individual regions and countries.”

3. What are the main business challenges that drive supply chain projects at the moment?

“Huawei Enterprise is totally new and the commercial model is different to what we have had at Huawei before. We have a blank piece of paper so it is very important how we design it and thereby become a fabulous concern. We need to have an experienced and talented team of sales and marketing, product and supply chain managers with the right strategy and working in the right direction.

We are asking ourselves, ‘How can we design our supply chain model to assist customers to be successful? What is the shortest, competitive, lead time we can offer? How can we work with our customers and suppliers in a virtual chain to save costs for all the participants?’

While we focus on fulfilling customers’ demands we also have to consider the supply strategy in terms of efficiency and costs. We are in the process of setting up a strong and transparent IT system and developing a smart way to link with our customers, link with our suppliers and link manufacturing altogether. Getting this right is very important and I believe we can achieve our targets in the next few months.

We are also working hard on optimising a model for our supply network. We have factories in Asia, Europe, India and Latin American as well as hubs in Europe and the Middle East. We are analysing how to optimise the supply chain manufacturing and logistics network in order to deploy the new products to the European market in the fastest way possible.

Also, we are launching many new products but we have no sales data experience to work on, so we are having to develop own special way of S&OP forecasting.”

4. Which supply chain challenges keeps you awake at night?

“Luckily I sleep well! However, my main concerns every working morning are how to satisfy customer requirement and even assist customers to be more successful, and how to lead my team to be the best in the industry within the next three years. To do this I need to filter information to determine what is the real demand and from that decide what direction to go. Then I need to lead my teams, and work with relevant participants, so that we all move in the same direction.”

5. What do you do about these challenges?

“We have a key account department which is dedicated to customer service. They hold monthly or quarterly reviews with customers to try to determine their requirements solve any problems and thereby improve our customer performance level.

We are continually reviewing operations to optimise the process and thereby help encourage the teams to improve their own efficiency.

We frequently hold team meetings and we encourage staff by giving them a clear view about their career path. We make it clear that promotion is possible if they do well. Internal positions become regularly available so they see there is a good chance for development.”

6. Who do you like to meet for exchange of knowledge?

“Three types of people. Firstly, colleagues from industry who work in the supply chain and logistics. I meet them at events and workshops, via Linked-in and by meeting friends where there is an opportunity to brainstorm.

Secondly I like to meet customers. I need to know if they are happy and understand their “pain point”. Sometimes just a small improvement in operations can bring a big benefit.

Thirdly, consultants. We have some top talents working for Huawei and they filter and quickly give us the dedicated information we need.”

7. Which book has inspired you the most and why?

“I don’t have time to read novels but because of our stage of development I am researching a lot about industry practise and companies such as Cisco, HP, IBM etc. It’s good to know how they run the business and about their company culture. My personal interest is in finance which is also very helpful when working in the supply chain.

And although this is not a book, I get a lot of information through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This provides quick updates especially on new technology or ideas.”

8. What do you expect to be professionally in 5 years?

“I have been with Huawei for nearly eight years. I was in charge of West European logistics for three years and before that I was responsible for the supply chain in the UK. However, I have only been in this challenging position of supply chain director, west Europe Enterprise business group for a few months.  My ambition is to lead my team in the best way possible.  The advantage is that we have a blank piece of paper which is very attractive to me. With continuous improvement, I’m sure we can be the market leader in this booming market within the next few years. Looking even further ahead I would consider a more cross-functional position, in particular combining supply chain with finance.”

9. What do you use for an agenda?

“A smartphone and laptop which are linked together.”