Jorma Ollila, the man credited with turning Nokia into one of the biggest mobile phone companies in the world, is to step down from the company next year in order to take up a new position as non-executive chairman of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.
54 year-old Ollila’s appointment follows reports last month that Royal Dutch Shell was seeking a successor for interim chairman Aad Jacobs. It is understood the company was seeking a chairman who was neither “too British” or “too Dutch” to avoid upsetting a delicate power balance that came as part of the historic unification of the company’s two boards last month.
Ollila joined Nokia in 1985 and took the helm in 1992. As Nokia CEO he presented an ambitious strategy that successfully restructured the former industrial conglomerate and, along with his team, accelerated its growth into one of the most successful companies in both the mobile phone and telecommunications infrastructure markets. Ollila will step down as CEO at Nokia on 1 June 2006.
Ollila’s initial career prior to Nokia was in banking at Citibank in London and Helsinki. He also has extensive experience as a non-executive director, including currently with Ford.
Commenting on Ollila’s appointment, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, Shell’s deputy chairman and senior independent director who led the search committee, said: “We were looking worldwide for a chairman with international standing, a global outlook and proven success in managing a complex organisation. In Ollila we found all these qualities and more.”
By John Kennedy