‘Humble’ Start at Huawei
At the time of her arrest, Huawei was the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world after Samsung Electronics, and has since climbed the Fortune Global 500 rankings to the 44th spot, with revenues of US$136 billion in the most recent fiscal year.
Ren, 76, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer, founded the company with a few thousand dollars in 1987, growing it into one of the world’s leading suppliers of hardware for telecommunications networks.
Meng has sought to stress her own “humble” beginnings, with Chinese media reporting that she once penned an internal memo claiming that her first tasks at the Shenzhen-based company involved secretarial work — answering phones and typing.
But she went on to earn a management degree and later joined Huawei’s finance department.
According to Chinese media, Meng kept her head down for years, to such an extent that few knew who her father was. This may have been aided by the fact that she took her mother’s surname from a young age, for reasons that remain unclear.
“He is a CEO at work, and a father at home,” Meng once said of Ren, to emphasize that competence, not connections, determined one’s path at Huawei.
In interviews, she has referred to him as “President Ren” rather than “father”.