New leaders often bring a management refresh but rarely as much upheaval as the latest regime change at Nokia. Including erstwhile CEO Rajeev Suri, seven top executives have now either fallen on their swords or been dismissed from their posts in recent months (the full list is shown below).
For Pekka Lundmark, Nokia's latest boss, the mission is to reduce the pool of decision makers with seats on the global leadership team to just 11, from the 17 Nokia had under Suri. This cull, it is hoped, will streamline and simplify the business. "Even in a fairly straightforward mobile access deal, there are five members responsible for that deal and that takes a lot of coordination," Lundmark told analysts last week.
He has now almost finalized the appointments for his executive team. After recently naming new recruit Nishant Batra as the chief strategy and technology officer, the company this week confirmed that Sandra Motley, the president of fixed networks, will lose her seat at the table. While Motley will continue to lead the fixed networks business, her unit will form a part of the new network infrastructure group led by Federico Guillén, already confirmed as one of Lundmark's 11.
The new gang
With nine other seats now taken, Nokia is still looking for an eleventh member of the team to fill what is likely to be a corporate affairs role. That means Gabriela Styf Sjöman and Bhaskar Gorti will probably be excluded.
Sjöman's job of chief strategy officer has effectively disappeared with the appointment of Nishant Batra. She has been in talks about her future at the company, a Nokia spokesperson told Light Reading last week. It is not totally inconceivable she steps into the corporate affairs role.
Table 1: Executive changes at Nokia
|Name||Role||Status||On global leadership team?|
|Kristian Pullola||Ex-chief financial officer||Departed||No|
|Marco Wirén||Chief financial officer||Confirmed||Yes|
|Nassib Abbou-Khalil||Chief legal officer||Confirmed||Yes|
|Barry French||Chief marketing officer||Departed||No|
|Gabriela Styf Sjöman||Ex-chief strategy officer||In talks||Uncertain|
|Marcus Weldon||Ex-chief technology officer||Departed||No|
|Nishant Batra||Chief strategy and technology officer||Confirmed||Yes|
|Stephanie Werner-Dietz||Chief human resources officer||Confirmed||Yes|
|Tommi Uitto||President of mobile networks||Confirmed||Yes|
|Sandra Motley||President of fixed networks||Named head of fixed networks||No|
|Rahgav Sahgal||President of Nokia Enterprise||Named head of cloud and network services||Yes|
|Jenni Lukander||President of Nokia Technologies||Confirmed||Yes|
|Basil Alwan||Co-president of IP/optical networks||Taking advisory role||No|
|Sri Reddy||Co-president of IP/optical networks||Taking advisory role||No|
|Bhaskar Gorti||President of Nokia Software and chief digital officer||Uncertain||Uncertain|
|Sanjay Goel||President of global services and operations||Departed||No|
|Ricky Corker||President of customer operations, Americas||Named head of customer experience||Yes|
|Federico Guillén||President of customer operations, EMEA and APAC||Named head of network infrastructure||Yes|
|Source: Nokia, Light Reading.|
Gorti is in a similar position to Motley. His software business has been rolled into a new cloud and network services unit that will be led by Rahgav Sahgal, until now president of Nokia's enterprise business. Like Motley, Gorti could settle for a less senior role, but that is by no means certain.
Other members of the global leadership team have not settled, after all. Basil Alwan and Sri Reddy, co-presidents of the high-flying IP and optical networks business, are to step down after their unit is absorbed into Guillén's network infrastructure one. They will, however, continue to advise Nokia for much of 2021, the company announced this week. "Sri and I are committed to ensuring a smooth and seamless continuation of service for our customers," said Alwan in a prepared statement.
Securing the services of two such highly respected industry executives should help to minimize disruption for Nokia as Lundmark kneads it into an entirely different shape. He is thinning out the doughy corporate functions by shifting 14,000 of their employees into his new business groups: mobile, network infrastructure, cloud services and the licensing unit (Nokia Technologies) that will continue as before.
Further job losses seem inevitable as Nokia tries to fatten profit margins that suffered under previous management. Average headcount at the business fell by nearly 4,800 positions last year, to 98,322. "Streamlining" and "simplifying," words Lundmark used pointedly during last week's discussion with analysts, are activities that seem likely to affect the entire organization, and not just Nokia's global leadership team.
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— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading