Cathy Meng has been keen to quash rumors about her private life. (Internet photo)
Meng Wangzhou, the low-key daughter of Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, has finally opened up about her personal life in an interview with Guangzhou's 21st Century Business Herald.
On Jan. 21, Meng, who is believed to be in her early 40s, made her first official public appearance as the CFO of Shenzhen-based Huawei, which has become the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker after knocking Ericsson from top spot last year. Prior to this she had largely remained behind the scenes and her life was a hot topic of speculation.
As part of her delivery of the company's 2012 financial performance report, Meng said that Huawei, which had cash reserves of US$12 billion as at the end of last year, would pay out 12.5 billion yuan (US$2 billion) in staff bonuses, exclusive of stock bonuses. 2012 was also a bounce-back year for the Chinese telecommunications giant, with net profit increasing 33% to 15.4 billion yuan (US$2.47 billion) after a lackluster 2011.
During her interview, Meng, who goes by the English name Cathy, was keen to quash the various rumors surrounding her private life swirling on the internet, many of which she said are not true.
First of all, she denied the popular rumor that she had joined Huawei straight out of high school and was therefore unqualified for the senior positions she has held throughout the company. "I am not just a high school graduate," she said. "I did attend high school, but I was also fortunate enough to have made it to university."
Weng said she graduated from university in 1992 and worked at a construction bank for a year before joining Huawei. She said it was true that she began as a receptionist and worked her way up because her father said it was important for her to learn the basics. Initially, she had wanted to study overseas and had even received several offers, but was unable to secure a visa, she said.
After working several years as a secretary, personal assistant and sales staff who had done simple administrative tasks such as typing, managing schedules and organizing exhibitions, Meng was promoted to director of Huawei's international accounting department. She has since been the CFO of Huawei's Hong Kong branch, the president of Huawei's accounting management department and president of the sales financing and treasury management department, before being appointed company CFO in 2011.
In 1997, she left Huawei briefly to pursue a master's in accounting from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in central China's Hubei province. She also holds a doctorate from Nankai University in Tianjin.
Another widespread rumor about Meng which she says is not true is that she is married to fellow Huawei managing director Xi Wenwei. Meng said her real husband is not even in the telecommunications industry and that they have two children, a 10-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter.
Meng also explained why she does not share her father's surname, having changed it herself to follow her mother's surname at the age of 16. She did not, however, divulge the reason behind her decision.
Meng also said that her brother Ren Ping, who had been rumored to be a successor to their father as Huawei CEO, currently works for a Huawei subsidiary that specializes in travel.
Meng Wangzhou 孟晚舟
Ren Zhengfei 任正非
Xi Wenwei 徐文偉
Ren Ping 任平