In 2005, Huawei also secured a deal with the European carrier Vodafone to sell about $1 million of gear. Even so, Mr. Scheuerle said, he was quickly given a new goal: Sell Vodafone $1 billion of equipment within three years. Huawei soon opened an office within steps of Vodafone’s complex in Düsseldorf, Germany.
“When I left less than three years later, we were at $850 million — we were almost there,” Mr. Scheuerle said.
Huawei moved other employees from China to help in Europe, and hired many non-Chinese employees. It was a jarring cultural change for newcomers unfamiliar with Huawei’s blunt management style; Mr. Scheuerle said staff emails criticized people by name for unsatisfactory work.
Mr. Scheuerle held workshops for new employees to help them adapt to the company. He advised them to befriend Chinese colleagues with better knowledge of what was happening at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen.
Today, 12,000 of Huawei’s 180,000 employees are in Europe, up from 7,300 in 2013. The company has vowed to hire nearly 3,000 more by next year. In 2017, it earned more than $20 billion in revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, roughly a quarter of its total business.
Even when American officials warned allies of Huawei’s risks, the company largely deflected the concerns. It opened a testing center where British officials inspected its products. It opened 23 research and development facilities in 14 European countries, and supported work at more than 150 universities. The company also hosts government officials and business leaders from Europe at its Shenzhen headquarters.
In 2011, Huawei created the board to oversee operations in Britain. In reality, the group has a limited view of Huawei’s inner workings and few responsibilities beyond quarterly meetings and attending some corporate events such as annual summer and winter parties, two people familiar with its activities said.