Evaluating Nokia’s New CEO Stephen Elop


Credit: Nokia

Early analysis is concluding that Nokia’s hiring of Stephen Elop was the best way to create a clean slate and breathe personality into a company that must transform from a hardware maker to a creative software and services innovator, comparable to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google.

However, critics question whether the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) executive is the right guy for the job. To be sure, Elop represents a big shift. He is the first non-Finn to hold the top position, and no longer will face language barriers when addressing outside press and investors. Already, he seems to have gotten off on the right foot in a press conference this morning when he easily chatted about comparing his native country of Canada to Finland because they both share the Arctic Circle. He also joked about hockey — but said stopped short by saying he didn’t like some of the popular local candy.

Nokia’s board was clear to say that the decision was not taken lightly. It started at least 10 months ago with a review of the company’s strategy and execution, and picked up in late May of this year when the search started for a new CEO. Here’s the impressions of people less than 24 hours after the announcement:

— “It seems that Nokia is now ready for an international charismatic leader,” said Microsoft Finland CEO Ari Rahkonen. “He is an international leader with broad international networks, a very charismatic performer and very keen on technology.” [AP]

— “Nokia will continue to power through what is a substantial transformation (from a hardware company to a software company). Elop will help to accelerate that (he

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