Features

Miguel Angel Morales – Huawei

Senior legal counsel stays calm under fire

When Miguel Angel Morales worked for a major auto manufacturer, it was a challenging time for the industry. Toward the end of Morales’ tenure there, auto sales decreased across the sector for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. As if that weren’t enough, his company’s sales had dropped the year before.

Having overcome plenty in his own life, Morales was no stranger to adversity. Despite the doom and gloom in the headlines, he kept his head down and persevered, providing legal advice to his employer as if nothing had happened.

Miguel Angel Morales | Senior Legal Counsel | Huawei

Miguel Angel Morales | Senior Legal Counsel | Huawei

“The industry faced challenges around sales and my employer struggled to continue to be a top-tier automotive company in Mexico,” Morales recalls. “My experience helped me to focus on my work through times of uncertainty.”

Now senior legal counsel in the device business department at Huawei, a multinational technology company based in China, the in-house counsel sees parallels between the lessons he learned during his time in the automotive industry and his current organization’s operational approach.

“As a company, they’ve faced adverse situations, but no matter what, they keep rising and maintain business quality,” Morales says.

Case in point: Morales says Huawei has had to grapple with aggressive competitors and continued challenges due to restrictions from the U.S. government. For example, Congress passed a law last year preventing the company from getting new equipment licenses from regulators. But Morales says that hasn’t stopped Huawei from developing new technologies and services.

New products and platforms

Morales recently helped spearhead the launch of one such new technology, the Huawei D smart watch, in Mexico. This required reviewing potential marketing issues (such as introducing artificial intelligence devices to a new market) and ensuring compliance with data protection, consumer protection and health devices regulations.

He then collaborated with his Huawei colleagues to determine the best technical approach to launching the smart watch in Mexico.

Morales also worked closely with all the internal departments in Mexico to launch e-commerce channels for Huawei sales in that country soon after he joined Huawei in 2018. The company now has a web presence throughout the country featuring high-resolution imagery and highlights from the company’s campaign to protect biodiversity there. Morales says he enjoyed figuring out the market and communicating the terms of use to the channel’s end users, among other things.

“It was a really interesting project since I was required to give advice on data protection regulation in Mexico and any other regulation involved in protecting our users’ information and rights as consumers,” he says.

Finding the right niche

A native of Mexico City, where he now makes his home, Morales had long wanted to pursue a legal career, so he studied law in college.

After graduating from Tec de Monterrey in 2006, he went to work for a large Mexican company which operates primarily in the hospitality sector but also has interests in real estate, entertainment and wineries.

Miguel Angel Morales | Senior Legal Counsel | Huawei

He later joined a major automotive company, where he delved into corporate legal matters and reviewed regulations for new financial products for end customers. By 2018, he was at Huawei, where he continues to help launch new technology projects.

“Huawei meant a new challenge to grow fast and learn from the best in their field, the opportunity to practice law in a company with diverse business opportunities and the chance to be part of the development of new tech products and digital services,” Morales says. “It was definitely the right decision.”

He enjoys working for a major tech company and hopes to one day research and write a book about how legal practice will evolve in an AI environment.

“To overcome AI, we will need to have an even stronger understanding of how human beings think and react to those new environments,” Morales says. “Overcoming AI will require us to strengthen how we read humans and understand their behavior, so as to stay one step ahead.”

Keeping his cool

Morales enjoys reading and thinking about the impact of new AI tools on legal practice. For example, he is intrigued by the legal ramifications of ChatGPT, a chatbot that has drawn interest for its complex answers to questions posed by humans and ability to remember previous prompts in a conversation. Morales believes that law firms and companies may use it to streamline day-to-day work.

“We will be able to focus more on dispute resolutions and transactional support to business leaders,” he says.

When he’s not spending his free time mulling over AI, he enjoys weightlifting and boxing.

“In both weightlifting and boxing, as in law, you have to stay focused, concentrate, not overthink, plan your next move and be patient,” he says.

Miguel Angel Morales | Senior Legal Counsel | Huawei

That approach has helped him earn recognition throughout his career. He was recently selected by The Legal 500 as one of the top up-and-coming in-house counsels in Mexico.

And in 2021, Huawei bestowed on him its Crisis Hero Award for grace under fire. Morales celebrated with a group dinner that included his team members and leadership. He says it’s the people who make Huawei such a great company to work for, and he was gratified to learn that his colleagues respect his efforts in turn.

“It was really satisfying,” Morales says of receiving the award. “It was a recognition for being able to improve communication between internal business departments; to respond in a fast and efficient manner; and to never give ‘no’ for an answer, always providing a solution to keep the business going.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.

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