Meet Paul Harrison, Director of Communications at Huawei UK

Paul Harrison, Huawei UK

Paul is Director of Communications at Huawei UK. Paul joined Huawei in 2020, after spending most of his working life in broadcast journalism at Sky News. In this piece, we talk about his career, his advice to his younger self and why he believes men should be part of the gender equality conversation.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve spent most of my working life in broadcast journalism at Sky News, so working in the tech space is relatively new for me. As Director of Communication, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in the past 3 years since joining Huawei, has been to get up to speed on the tech whilst being asked highly technical questions by super informed journalists. But as a former journalist, you can see the techniques journalists use to trip you up, coming long before they hit you.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not much planning for me. I imagined I would always be involved in the media somehow. Whether you are on the journalism side of the fence or the PR – or ‘dark side’ as it is known in the media – the media has always played a role in my career. Having a journalist as a father meant that from an early age, I was exposed to news, if only to catch sight of my Dad in a war zone or in a far flung part of the world on his latest assignment. So I fell into working in local media after university.

The rest is history.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Watching others, I learned not to sit still for too long and changed things up regularly. Part of this is due to having good mentors in the media who had my back. While remaining at one company for 22 years, I had 6 different roles during that time, spotting new opportunities every 3-4 years. The hardest moment came when changing industry from journalism to PR. Taking the plunge into a new world was scary but people told me to back myself.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I don’t look at my career in terms of my achievements, rather in the form of other people’s achievements.

I get more of a kick out of helping others exceed expectations and achieve.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

For people who are successful, they have had good networks of people around them to help them realise their full potential. Align with good people who believe in you and push you to be the best you can.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I have officially been a mentor in my past as a journalist and having an experienced person to help you negotiate difficult moments in your career or simply offer a guiding hand, can be enormously powerful. I have also benefitted from a mentor. The point is those who have a degree is seniority should factor an element of mentor behaviour into their daily work life.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

Opportunity is everything.

A level playing field is vital in this regard.

So industry, business and Government must not shy away from making tough decisions to force the issue. Words are cheap, actions are invaluable.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

In an ideal world, equality in the workplace should not even be a discussion. The fact it is means it incumbent upon all of us to realise there is a problem that needs solving, and fast.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Back yourself early on. If you feel something is within your grasp, back yourself to achieve it. But in doing so, remain modest and humble. No-one likes a smart-arse.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

A good night’s sleep.