Ex-Nokia chairman says Elop was not first choice CEO


Jorma Ollila’s says in his book that Stephen Elop was Nokia’s second choice to become CEO in 2010, following the withdrawal of its first choice due to personal reasons

Former Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila, who led the search for a new CEO in 2010, claims Stephen Elop (pictured) wasn’t the manufacturer’s first choice as chief executive.

The claims are made in Ollila’s book ‘An Impossible Success’ which was released yesterday and is only published in Finnish.

Ollila, who was Nokia chairman from 1999-2012, as well as its CEO from 1992-2006, led the search for a new CEO following the departure of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in 2010.

He describes in his book how he travelled to the US to interview five potential candidates with suitable backgrounds over the course of three days and said his first choice “was the the number two man man at a well-known American technology company.”

The executive isn’t named but Ollila said the candidate was in his 50s and withdrew from the selection process due to personal reasons, leaving Nokia with the younger Elop, who impressed them as “a good salesman and a decisive corporate executive.”

Ollila says he was impressed with Elop’s experience in software and his “Finnish-style directness” but wondered whether he was too much of an American-style corporate executive for the manufacturer.

Before joining Nokia, Elop had worked for Microsoft for two-and-a-half years, where he headed up the technology firm’s business division and was responsible for its Office and Dynamics line of products.

Ollila’s book focuses on the rise of Nokia and ends with Elop’s appointment, but doesn’t discuss the deal struck between Nokia and Microsoft for the Finnish company to use its Windows Phone operating system on its smartphones.

Last month it was announced that Microsoft had agreed to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for $7.2 billion (£4.6 billion), with the deal likely to be concluded in Q4. Some 32,000 staff will transfer to Microsoft as a result.

Elop immediately stepped down from his position as CEO and became executive vice president of Nokia’s devices and services business. Once the deal is complete, he will become executive vice president of Microsoft.

Nokia chairman of the board Risto Siilasmaa has assumed the position of interim CEO until a permanent successor to Elop is found.