Why Did Nokia Chose Rajeev Suri As Their New CEO?


Nokia has a pretty interesting history; when it started it’s operation in the year 1865, they used to manufacture rubber, and the name Nokia arrived because it was the place (in Finland) where their factories used to be based. It also helped them to differentiate from Russian competitors.

Since the last 148 years, Nokia has evolved and adapted itself to the prevailing market conditions and situations and survived. And once the technological watchers declared that Nokia is now dead after Microsoft bought its handsets and services business for $7.5 billion, it is again evolving and adapting itself.

And in a move which has been described as classical, Nokia has recently named its CEO: Rajeev Suri.

Rajiv Suri New Nokia CEO-001

As per the deal with Microsoft, Stephen Elop, the last CEO of Nokia had to leave the company and join Microsoft to manage the handsets and services portfolio. That created a vacuum which needed to be filled in fast. They needed a man who can bring in innovative strategies and a long term vision to save Nokia, which is now facing extreme adversity and sharp criticism in the wake of loss in handset business.

But Nokia has played it’s cards really well out here in choosing the mentor which can save the drowning ship.

Rajeev Suri is known as the “Turnaround Leader” within the technological world.

He started off with this statement, “The Nokia that I grew up in, and that many of you grew up in, is no more,”

Rajeev, 46, has been educated at Manipal Institute of Technology, the place where current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also studied technology. He joined Nokia in the year 1995, and for the last 19 years he has been instrumental in leading the company towards achieving higher profit and maximum productivity. Interestingly, he has no MBA.

The MIT director Vinod Thomas said that Suri “was a good student but not an outstanding one. No one could’ve predicted he would climb the ladder so high. We’re all very happy with his success.”

Since 2009, he headed the Nokia Solutions and Networks division (previously known as Nokia Siemens Networks) and completely transformed it. When he took over, it was a loss making unit but due to his strategic alliances, removing loss making units and bringing in innovations, his division started oozing out profits.

Last year, it accounted for almost 90% of Nokia’s annual revenues, clocking in 12.7 billion euros.

Rajeev Suri calls himself a global citizen, as he has made Finland his permanent home since 2009. His wife is an entrepreneur with offices in Singapore, London and USA. He is a cricket lover, and never misses any cricket match involving Indian team. He is an avid family man, who is aware of his responsibilities and duties.

In a memo sent to his colleagues after his appointment, he said, “My family will be with me when they can, although this is not always easy as my youngest child is finishing high school on one continent, my eldest is in college on another and my wife Nina is an entrepreneur. Despite these challenges, my family has and will always be, the centre of my life,”

As of now, his main goal is to make Nokia the number one company in the following niches: Networks, Navigation (Maps) and Patents. Shareholders are happy that Nokia has named one of its most eligible leaders to head the company in this rough weather.

  1. KiranKS says

    It is very interesting to learn that Manipal Inst. of Technology is now a “power house” being the Alma mater for world class leaders (two of them named here). I am so glad. However, back in the late 90s when we studied at KREC (Surathkal), we didn’t even look at Manipal as a competitor after all the bright minds were supposed to be at KREC! This clearly shows the gap between academic world and the real world. Academic achievement is overvalued and overrated in India.

    1. Mohul says

      @Kiran: I can totally relate with your comment. I have studied in Mangalore, at Srinivas College, and we guys always knew that MIT is for the rich brats and KREC at Suratkhal is for the geeks and nerds. But yes, the real world depends on the connections, and network, and I guess Manipal has strong alumni network as well.

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