Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) appointed Stephen Elop as its chief executive three years ago. But the Finnish company’s former chairman, Jorma Ollila, who led the CEO search at the time, revealed in his latest book that Stephen Elop wasn’t his first choice to become Nokia’s CEO. Nokia, which was once a leader in mobile phone market was rapidly losing grounds to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930).
Stephen Elop was Nokia’s second choice
Jorma Ollila’s memoir, titled Mahdoton Menestys, or An Impossible Success, is published only in Finnish, reports Juhana Rossi of The Wall Street Journal. Ollila said he went to the U.S. in 2010 to interview five potential candidates with a strong background in the technology sector. Jorma Ollila personally interviewed all of them. He zeroes in on a “No.2 man at a well-known American technology company.” He didn’t disclose the name of the executive. But Ollila said he was in his 50’s. That candidate withdrew from the process, citing personal reasons.
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So, Ollila and the Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) board brought on their second choice, Stephen Elop. Ollila said Mr. Elop impressed the selection team as a decisive corporate leader and a good salesman. Now, Stephen Elop is a likely candidate to become CEO of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) after Steve Ballmer retires next year.
Stephen Elop made several structural and organizational changes at Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V). He slashed thousands of jobs and sold assets. He tried to differentiate Nokia by offering Windows smartphones. Despite his massive efforts, Stephen Elop failed to bring Nokia back to life. Finally, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) acquired the handset business of the Finnish company for $7.2 billion.
Jorma Ollila was Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s CEO between 1992 and 2006. And he served the company as chairman between 1999 and 2012. Ollila is known for making Nokia one of the world’s most admired and valuable companies.
Ollila’s doubts about Stephen Elop
Ollila said in his book that, though he liked Stephen Elop’s directness, he had certain doubts. Ollila wondered if Elop, an American-style executive, was a good fit for a Finnish company that had a low key corporate culture. Ollila also doubted Stephen Elop’s focus on products because he needed a man with “Steve Jobs-caliber performances.”
Jorma Ollila doesn’t discuss anything after Stephen Elop’s appointment in his book. However, in a recent interview with a Finnish newspaper, he said that partnering with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V)’s biggest mistake.
American shares of Nokia jumped 1.56% to $7.14 at 9:54 AM EDT.