Sari Baldauf, a former head of Nokia’s networks division will replace Chairman Risto Siilasmaa next year. Siilasmaa, who has now been in the role for about eight years, won’t seek reelection at the upcoming Annual General Meeting that will be held in April 2020.
Baldauf, who is currently the Vice Chair, has been working at Nokia for seven years in the first part of the last decade, leading Nokia’s Networks business, the business that is now Nokia’s core business. She is also a member of the Supervisory Board at Daimler, currently involved in a patent war with Nokia, with the recent info suggesting a deal could be made between parties.
As she takes on a new assignment in the company, she said, “I am honored by the nomination to serve Nokia and its shareholders as the Chair of the Board of Directors.”
She shared how her experience of working with Siilasmaa would help her spearhead the company towards its growth vision.
Baldauf said, “Risto and I have worked closely together since I was named Vice Chair in May. I see a clear opportunity to help create long-term shareholder value and look forward to continuing to work closely with the Board and with Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. Rajeev and his team are working hard to address both the short-term issues and strengthen Nokia’s longer-term value drivers.”
While her appointment is subject to shareholder approval at the group's annual general meeting in April, a one year succession plan is already in place to make the transfer of power from Siilasmaa to Baldauf as smooth as possible.
Leadership changes amid financial struggle
Nokia has recently received profit warning and its shares have lost more than a third of their value this year as it struggles with the shift to 5G. Besides the latest appointment of a new Chairman, there have been many changes in the leadership team at Nokia.
Chief Operating Officer Joerg Erlemeier is on the way out after the profit warning and Nokia’s decision to discontinue the role. Earlier this year, Nokia Technologies president Maria Varsellona left to become General Counsel at ABB Ltd., and Nicolas Bouverot, vice-president for the South Asia region, left for a job at Thales SA.
Additionally, Nokia's mobile network business has also witnessed some major exits. The unit’s current president, Tommi Uitto, was appointed in November 2018 after his predecessors, Samih Elhage and Marc Rouanne, both left the company.
Now it is Siilasmaa, who has played an intrumental role in company's success who is ready to resign. Nokia's financial struggle probably has nothing to do with Siilasmaa's decision to not continue as Chairman, however, the company might get affected by a loss of such leader. As Baldauf takes on this role next year, she would have the responsibility to spearhead the company out of the current chaos. Along with preparing for a smooth transition, she would have to also work on a strategy to help Nokia regain its market share and consolidate its brand presence.
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