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Huawei’s ‘Wolf Culture’ Helped It Grow, and Got It Into Trouble

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SHENZHEN, China — Earthquakes, terrorist attacks and low oxygen levels on Mount Everest could not hold them back.

As the Chinese tech giant Huawei expanded around the globe, supplying equipment to bring mobile phone and data service to the planet’s farthest reaches, its employees were urged on by a culture that celebrated daring feats in pursuit of new business.

They worked grueling hours. They were encouraged to bend certain company rules, as long as doing so enriched the company and not employees personally, according to Huawei workers interviewed by The New York Times.

Employees at the company and people who have studied it have a name for its hard-charging corporate spirit: “wolf culture.”

Now, the company’s aggressive ways have been cast in a new light. The United States has accused Meng Wanzhou, a top Huawei executive and daughter of its founder, of committing bank fraud to help the company’s business in Iran.

It is not clear precisely how Huawei’s culture shaped its dealings in Iran. But an intense will to get ahead, which helped propel it to the head of the global market for telecom network equipment, seems to have informed employees’ actions in previous cases that put the company under scrutiny.

Huawei workers have been accused of bribing government officials to win business in Africa, copying an American competitor’s source code and even stealing the fingertip of a robot in a T-Mobile lab in Bellevue, Wash. In 2015, Huawei’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, said that as part of a company amnesty program, thousands of employees had admitted to violations ranging from fraudulent reporting of financial information to bribery.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman said that Huawei requires all employees to study and sign guidelines on business conduct every year. “At the heart of the guidelines is the principle of acting in accordance with all local laws and regulations,” said the spokesman, Joe Kelly. “Where employees are found to have acted outside these guidelines, the company takes decisive action which can include immediate termination of employment.”

Mr. Ren said in 2015 that Huawei had toughened its safeguards against employee misconduct. But the following year, in a speech that was emailed to employees, he acknowledged that many workers did not pay attention to internal rules and controls — perhaps, he said, because Huawei used to evaluate staff solely according to how much business they won.

More recently, in remarks that were emailed to employees, Mr. Ren said that it was important to enforce internal standards, but that this should not become a hindrance.

“If it blocks the business from producing grain, then we all starve to death,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments on a Huawei website.

Ms. Meng’s arrest this month has darkened China’s relations with the United States, scrambling efforts by the two nations to ease a tense economic conflict. Washington has worked for years to undermine Huawei, regarding its products as potential vehicles for espionage and sabotage — something the company denies.

Security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese equipment providers are mounting among traditional allies of the United States.

At the annual meeting of spy chiefs of the so-called Five Eyes countries, Huawei was among the topics discussed by senior intelligence officers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, including Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, according to current and former officials. There was no formal agreement to seek a ban of Huawei, but the discussion shows the loose coordination Western security officials have pursued as they try to push the Chinese company out of agreements to build the next-generation mobile broadband networks, known as 5G, some of the officials said.

The pressure on the business is building. In Germany last week, Deutsche Telekom said it was taking seriously the “global discussion about the security of network elements from Chinese manufacturers.” On Monday, the Czech intelligence agency warned against the country working with Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese technology company.

Huawei was founded in the late 1980s, during the tumultuous early years of China’s capitalist revival. Mr. Ren was an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army for nearly a decade before starting Huawei, and military values — tenacity, dedication, drive — have long suffused the company.

In the early years, squads of Huawei salesmen crisscrossed China in sport utility vehicles peddling the company’s telephone switches to post offices. Employees were given mattresses so they could nap while working late nights.

Company lore, as recounted in employee publications and admiring books by business professors, is heavy on stories of dogged staff members enduring physical hardship. They worked to keep telecom services running despite a terrorist attack in Mumbai and an earthquake in Algeria. They braved cold and sleeplessness to provide mobile coverage to climbers on Mount Everest.

Today, the working hours are still long at Huawei, although folding beds at work are more likely to be used for midday shut-eye than for all-nighters, according to three employees. Several Huawei staff members spoke to The New York Times on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.

New hires at Huawei take part in a boot camp-style training course that involves morning jogs and classes on the company’s culture. Employees also compose and perform skits that illustrate how they would persevere and serve their customers in difficult environs, such as war zones, according to three Huawei employees.

In a research lab in Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters, a piece of framed calligraphy on the wall reads: “Sacrifice is a soldier’s highest cause. Victory is a soldier’s greatest contribution.”

This intense work environment is not universally admired in China. Internet users savaged Huawei after a 25-year-old employee died of encephalitis in 2006. A spate of employee suicides led to more outrage in the Chinese media.

When it comes to staff conduct at Huawei, there are “red lines” that cannot be crossed under any circumstances, four employees told The Times. These include disclosing company secrets and breaking laws and sanctions.

But in company parlance, there are also “yellow lines,” employees say. They say they are encouraged to ignore certain internal rules, such as a ban on using gifts or other inducements to win customers, if it benefits the firm to do so.

For some people at Huawei, these lines may have become blurred as the company grew rapidly around the globe.

In 2002, Iraq’s government submitted to the United Nations a 12,000-page declaration on its weapons program, and Huawei was reported to have been named as one of dozens of foreign companies that broke an embargo and sold technology to Saddam Hussein’s regime. The company denied at the time that it had supplied equipment to Iraq. It said it had bid on two telecom projects in the country in 1999, but withdrew for commercial reasons.

Another test came in 2003, when Huawei was sued by Cisco Systems, the American maker of computer network equipment, for allegedly copying its software and even language from its instruction manuals. The two sides settled out of court.

A decade later, T-Mobile said that Huawei employees had photographed and stolen a piece of a smartphone-testing robot named Tappy to help Huawei produce its own robot. Huawei acknowledged the transgressions and said the employees had been fired. A jury later awarded T-Mobile $4.8 million in damages.

Allegations of impropriety of other kinds trailed Huawei’s expansion into Africa. In Ghana, an anticorruption group said in 2012 that the company had sponsored the governing party’s election campaign in exchange for tax breaks. That year, a Huawei executive was also convicted in Algeria of bribing an official from a state-run telecom operator.

Huawei did not comment on the accusation in Ghana at the time. After the Algerian court ruling, the company said it took the court’s decision “seriously” and was reviewing the outcome.

In a 2013 New Year’s message that was published in an employee newspaper, Guo Ping, Huawei’s chief executive at the time, acknowledged that rapid growth had created problems and risks.

“Not long ago, high-speed growth was Huawei’s priority,” Mr. Guo said. “This helped Huawei mature quickly, but it also caused Huawei’s management to become negligent.”

Now, he said, “we must control the impulse to expand, and hold to account managers who spread themselves too thin.”

By then, Huawei had said it had halted expansion in one particularly sensitive market: Iran. Still, United States investigators now say the company broke the law in connection with its business there.

Huawei entered the Iranian market in 1999. Within a decade, the Chinese Embassy in Tehran was boasting that 130 cities in the country were connected to Huawei’s fiber optic network.

“The Iranian telecom market’s reliance on Huawei’s products is growing day by day,” a 2009 article on the embassy’s website said. “Huawei has become the Iranian telecom market’s main hardware supplier.”

Soon thereafter, the United Nations and the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. In 2011, Huawei said it would not sign new contracts in the country, citing the “complicated” situation there. It also said it would limit its business with existing customers.

The accusations against Ms. Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, stem from events in 2013.

According to an affidavit that was made public during Ms. Meng’s bail hearing, Huawei used a company called Skycom as an unofficial subsidiary for doing business in Iran. The filing, which contains information provided by the United States, says that Ms. Meng concealed Skycom’s link to Huawei to reassure HSBC and other banks that Huawei was not violating American sanctions against Iran.

As a result, HSBC and its American subsidiary had cleared more than $100 million in transactions with Skycom in Iran by 2014, the affidavit says.

Huawei still has a presence in Iran. At a cellphone bazaar in Tehran is a store that specializes in the company’s devices.

Inside, a shopkeeper, Hamed Hajipour, says Huawei’s phones are popular in Iran. Mr. Hajipour, 29, has even had his name tattooed in Chinese characters on his arm.

“I love everything about China,” he said. “It’s a great and powerful country.”

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The 3 Best Canadian Tech Stocks I Would Buy With $3,000 for 2021

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The majority of the Canadian tech stocks went through the roof in 2020 and delivered outsized returns. However, tech stocks witnessed sharp selling in the past 10 days, reflecting valuation concerns and expected normalization in demand. 

As these high-growth tech stocks shed some of their gains, I believe it’s time to accumulate them at current price levels to outperform the broader markets by a significant margin in 2021. Let’s dive into three tech stocks that have witnessed a pullback and are looking attractive bets. 

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD)(NYSE:LSPD) stock witnessed strong selling and is down about 33% in the last 10 days. I believe the selloff in Lightspeed presents an excellent opportunity for investors to invest in a high-growth and fundamentally strong company. 

Lightspeed witnessed an acceleration in demand for its digital products and services amid the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown measures and economic reopening, the demand for its products and services could normalize. Further, it faces tough year-over-year comparisons. 

Despite the normalization in demand, I believe the ongoing shift toward the omnichannel payment platform could continue to drive Lightspeed’s revenues and customer base. Besides, its accretive acquisitions, growing scale, and geographic expansion are likely to accelerate its growth and support the uptrend in its stock. Lightspeed stock is also expected to benefit from its growing average revenue per user, innovation, and up-selling initiatives.     

Shopify 

Like Lightspeed, Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) stock has also witnessed increased selling and has corrected by about 22% in the past 10 days. Notably, during the most recent quarter, Shopify said that it expects the vaccination and reopening of the economy to drive some of the consumer spending back to offline retail and services. Further, Shopify expects the pace of shift toward the e-commerce platform to return to the normal levels in 2021, which accelerated in 2020.

Despite the normalization in the pace of growth, a strong secular shift towards online commerce could continue to bring ample growth opportunities for Shopify, and the recent correction in its stock can be seen as a good buying opportunity. 

Shopify’s initiatives to ramp up its fulfillment network, international expansion and growing adoption of its payment platform are likely to drive strong growth in revenues and GMVs. Moreover, its strong new sales and marketing channels bode well for future growth. I remain upbeat on Shopify’s growth prospects and expect the company to continue to multiply investors’ wealth with each passing year. 

Docebo 

Docebo (TSX:DCBO)(NASDAQ:DCBO) stock is down about 21% in the last 10 days despite sustained momentum in its base business. The enterprise learning platform provider’s key performance metrics remain strong, implying that investors should capitalize on its low stock price and start accumulating its stock at the current levels. 

Docebo’s annual recurring revenue or ARR (a measure of future revenues) continues to grow at a brisk pace. Its ARR is expected to mark 55-57% growth in Q4. Meanwhile, its top line could increase by 48-52% during the same period. The company’s average contract value is growing at a healthy rate and is likely to increase by 22-24% during Q4. 

With the continued expansion of its customer base, geographical expansion, innovation, and opportunistic acquisitions, Docebo could deliver strong returns in 2021 and beyond.

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Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems

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WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is investing $6.5 million over three years to replace technical systems used in healthcare facilities, including replacing current voice dictation and transcription services with more modern systems and upgrading the Provincial Health Contact Centre (PHCC)’s triage, call-recording and telephone systems, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson (pictured) announced.

“Our government is investing in the proper maintenance of information and communications technology to ensure digital health information can be safely stored and shared as needed,” said Stefanson. “These systems will ensure healthcare facilities can continue to provide high-quality services and allow Manitobans to get faster access to healthcare resources and information.”

Dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services are used by healthcare providers to write reports. There are currently approximately 80 healthcare sites across Manitoba using some combination of dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services. Many of these systems are nearing the end of their usable lifespans.

“Across our health system, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use voice-dictation services to help create diagnostic reports when reading imaging studies like ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies, X-rays, angiography, MRI and CT scans,” said Dr. Marco Essig, provincial specialty lead, diagnostic imaging, Shared Health. “Enhanced dictation and voice-recognition services will enable us to work more efficiently and provide healthcare providers with quicker access to these reports that support the diagnoses and treatment of Manitobans every day.”

The project will replace telephone-based dictation and transcription with voice-recognition functions, upgrade voice-recognition services for diagnostic imaging and enhance voice-recognition tools for mobile devices.

“Investing in more modern voice-transcription services will help our health-care workers do the administrative part of their jobs more quickly and effectively so they can get back to the most important part of their work – providing top-level healthcare and protecting Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The transition to the new system will be made seamlessly so that services disruptions, which can lead to patient care safety risks, will not occur.”

The new systems will be compatible with other existing systems, will decrease turnaround times to improve patient care and will be standardized across the province to reduce ongoing costs and allow regional facilities to share resources as needed, Stefanson added.

The PHCC is a one-stop shop for incoming and outgoing citizen contact and supports programs such as Health Links–Info Santé, TeleCARE TeleSOINS and After-Hours Physician Access, as well as after-hours support services to public health, medical officers of health, home care and Manitoba Families.

The current vendor that supplies communications support to the PHCC is no longer providing service, making it an opportune time to invest in an upgraded system that will provide better service to Manitobans, the minister said, adding the project will provide the required systems and network infrastructure to continue providing essential services now and for the near future.

“The PHCC makes more than 650,000 customer service calls to Manitobans per year to a broad spectrum of clients with varied health issues. This reduces the need for people to visit a physician, urgent care or emergency departments,” said Stefanson. “The upgrade will also allow Manitobans in many communities to continue accessing the support they need from their home or local health centre, reducing the need for unnecessary travel.”

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Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized

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Telus’s Health for Good program has launched the latest of its specially equipped vans to provide medical services to the homeless and underserved, this time to the population of Toronto’s west end. The project relies not only on the hardware and software – the vans and technology – but on the care delivered by trained and socially sensitive medical professionals.

For the Toronto project, those professionals are working at the University Health Network’s Social Medicine program and the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. The city’s Parkdale community, in the west end, has a high concentration of homeless and marginalized people.

First launched in 2014, Telus’s Health for Good program has delivered mobile clinics to 13 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax. Originally designed to deliver primary care, the program pivoted to meet the needs of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nimtaz Kanji, Calgary-based director of Telus Social Purpose Programs.

Angela Robertson of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) asserted that marginalized people are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, as they don’t have access to the basic precautions that prevent its spread.

The clinic is located near a Pizza Pizza franchise; homeless people shelter under its overhang on the weekends, she said. Some have encampments under nearby bridges.

“The public health guidelines and requirements call for things that individuals who are homeless don’t have,” Robertson said. “If the response calls for isolation, that suggests people have places to isolate in.”

And in the shelter system, pre-COVID, the environment was very congregate, with many people in the same physical space, said Robertson. Some homeless persons, in order to keep themselves safe, have created encampments, and the city has opened up some hotel rooms across the city to create spaces for physical distancing.

Even proper hand-washing and hygiene becomes a challenge for the homeless.

“COVID calls for individuals to practice constant hand-washing. Oftentimes, individuals who are homeless use public washroom facilities that may be in restaurants or coffee shops, and many of those spaces are now closed. So there are limitations to accessing those facilities. It’s not like they’re in a community where there are public hand-washing facilities for people who are homeless.”

The mobile health clinic allows the CHC to take “pop-up testing” into communities where there is high positivity and where additional COVID testing is needed. The CHC can take testing into congregate sites and congregate housing to provide more testing, Robertson said.

“The other piece that we will use the van to do is, when the vaccine supply gets back online, and when the health system gets to doing community vaccinations … we hope that we can be part of that effort.”

COVID has contributed to a spike in cases of Toronto’s other pandemic: opioid overdoses. Some community members are reluctant to seek care because of the stigma attached to substance abuse; and COVID has a one-two punch for users.

The first rule of substance abuse is, don’t use alone; always be with someone who can respond to a potential overdose, ideally someone who can administer Nalaxone to reverse the effects of the overdose, Robertson said. “It’s substance abuse 101,” and the need for social distancing makes this impossible.

Secondly, COVID has affected the supply chain of street drugs. As a result, they’re being mixed increasingly with “toxic” impurities like Fentanyl that can be deadly.

The van itself is a Mercedes Sprinter, modified by architectural firm éKM architecture et aménagement and builder Zone Technologie, both based in Montréal. According to Car and Driver magazine, the Sprinter line – with 21 cargo models and 10 passenger versions – is “considered by many to be the king of cargo and passenger vans.”

Kanji said the platform was chosen for its reputation for reliability and robustness.

While the configuration is customized for each mobile clinic, it generally consists of two sections: A practitioner’s workstation and a more spacious and private examination room, so patients can receive treatment with privacy and dignity, Kanji said. The Parkdale clinic is 92 square feet.

“While the layouts vary across regions, they typically include an examination table and health practitioners’ workstation, including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare,” the Telus vice-president of provider solutions wrote in an e-mail interview. The Parkdale Queen West mobile clinic is designed for primary medical services, including wound care, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, harm reduction services, mental healthcare and counseling.

The clinic equipped with an electronic medical record (EMR) from TELUS Health and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology.

Practitioners will be able to collect and store patient data, examine a patient’s results over time, and provide better continuity of care to those marginalized citizens who often would have had undocumented medical histories.

The EMR system is Telus Health’s PS Suite (formerly Practice Solutions). It is an easy-to-use, customizable solution for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes, and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. The solution allows for the electronic management of patient charts and scheduling, receipt of labs and hospital reports directly into the EMR, and personalization of workflows with customizable templates, toolbars, and encounter assistants.

But like others tested for COVID, it’s a 24-48 hour wait for results. Pop-up or not, how does the mobile team get results to patients who have no fixed address?

The CHC set up a centre for testing in a tent at the Waterfront Community Centre. Swabs are sent to the lab. “We are responsible for connecting back with community members and their results,” Robertson said.

“This is the value of having Parkdale Queen West being in front of the testing, because many of the community members who are homeless we know through our other services, and there is some trust in folks either coming to us to make arrangements to collect their results, or we know where they are.”

This is a key element of the program, said Kanji – leveraging community trust. In Vancouver downtown east side, for example, where there is a high concentration of marginalized members of the indigenous community, nurse practitioners are accompanied by native elders in a partnership with the Kilala Lelum Health Centre.

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