The billionaire founder of Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei, Ren Zhengfei kept a low public profile. He rarely spoke to the media, letting his company’s rapid growth around the world do the talking.
1. He was born in China’s poorest province, Guizhou
Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei was born in 1944 into a rural family where both parents were school teachers. He spent his primary and middle school years in a remote mountainous town in Guizhou Province.
2. He studied at the Chongqing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture
He joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as an engineer in 1974, during China’s Cultural Revolution when the country was suffering from severe food and clothing shortages.
Ren Zhengfei was tasked with setting up a chemical factory to make textile fibres in northeast China, part of the communist government’s plans to ensure every citizen had at least one decent piece of clothing.
3. Ren Zhengfei had taken various positions but without military rank
He had taken positions as a technician, an engineer, and was lastly promoted as a Deputy Director, which was a professional role equivalent to a Deputy Regimental Chief but without military rank.
After the PLA, he spent a few years working for an oil company before founding Huawei in 1987.
4. Huawei was registered as a private company when it first started
Huawei was founded when China’s market transformation was in full swing. The country’s poor telecommunications infrastructure was holding back progress.
It was registered as a private company in Shenzhen, a fishing village that had just been designated as a special economic zone in China.
5. Unfortunately, Huawei struggled to gain market share
Ren Zhengfei pushed employees to work long hours and do whatever it took to secure business. He pushed Huawei to create its own technology that would enable it to compete with its bigger rivals.
He worked long hours, leaving him little time to build strong relationships with his three children.
6. He has been married three times
Ren and his three children are Chinese royalty, given Huawei is China’s most successful tech firm and is bigger in smartphones than Apple. His eldest daughter, Meng Wanzhou, has spent decades at the company, rising through the ranks to become its chief financial officer.
While Meng and her brother Meng Ping work at Huawei and keep their heads down, their half-sister Annabel Yao who loves ballet prefers all the fame and recently appeared at a high-fashion debutante ball in Paris.
7. He is basically a super rich man
Huawei has become the biggest electronics brand in China, and Ren Zhengfei is thought to be worth US$1.7 billion as of February 2019.