Nokia CEO steps down as company attempts to catch up in 5G race

2 Mar 2020

Image: © Andrei/

As the company prepares for the future of 5G, Nokia has announced that Rajeev Suri will be stepping down as CEO.

Finnish mobile giant Nokia has announced that Rajeev Suri is stepping down as president and CEO of Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks after more than a decade in the roles.

Suri is to be replaced by Pekka Lundmark, who will take over from 1 September 2020. Lundmark is currently president and CEO of Fortum, an energy company based in Espoo, Finland. Prior to working with Fortum, Lundmark was the president and CEO of material-handling technology business Konecranes.

Between 1990 and 2000, Lundmark held multiple executive positions at Nokia, including vice-president of strategy and business development at Nokia Networks.

Announcing his planned departure, Suri said: “After 25 years at Nokia, I have wanted to do something different. Nokia will always be part of me, and I want to thank everyone that I have worked with over the years for helping make Nokia a better place and me a better leader.

“I leave the company with a belief that a return to better performance is on the horizon and with pride for what we have accomplished over time. Pekka is an excellent choice for Nokia. I look forward to working with him on a smooth transition and wish him the best of success in his new role.”

Preparing for the world of 5G

The news comes after Suri indicated to the company’s board that he was considering stepping down from his role at some point in the future, provided that a “solid succession plan” was put in place.

Chair of Nokia’s board, Risto Siilasmaa, said: “With the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent behind us and the world of 5G in front of us, I am pleased that Pekka has agreed to join Nokia.

“He has a record of leadership and shareholder value creation at large business-to-business companies; deep experience in telecommunications networks, industrial digitisation and key markets such as the United States and China; and a focus on strategic clarity, operational excellence and strong financial performance.”

Lundmark added: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead Nokia, an extraordinary company that has so much potential and so many talented people. Together we can create shareholder value by delivering on Nokia’s mission to create the technology to connect the world.

“I am confident that the company is well positioned for the 5G era and it is my goal to ensure that we meet our commitments to our customers, employees, shareholders and stakeholders. Strong values, leading innovation and unflinching commitment to our customers have always been core to Nokia and I want to put the even more at our centre as we move forward.”

In a statement, Nokia said that during his 25-year tenure, Suri led “a significant consolidation of the telecommunications infrastructure sector; a fundamental turnaround of Nokia Siemens Networks including the disposal of multiple non-core assets; massive growth in the company’s highly profitable patent licensing business; the integration of Alcatel-Lucent and the successful diversification into new software and enterprise markets”.

Competing with Huawei

The Financial Times suggested that the leadership change was a necessary move for Nokia to continue competing against China’s Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson. All three have been shifting focus to 5G technologies in recent years.

Reporter Richard Milne wrote: “Nokia has failed to capitalise on Chinese suppliers such as Huawei being banned in the US over security concerns and has reported weak results in recent quarters, warning that its rivals were being aggressive in winning 5G deals.”

Last month, Huawei held a keynote in London in which the company announced that it has been awarded 91 commercial contracts, 27 of which are with operators located in Asia, while 57 are with European partners.

Meanwhile, Ericsson has 81 commercial contracts and Nokia recently announced that it has secured 63. Huawei also said that it has shipped more than 600,000 5G Massive MIMO active antenna units.

According to the Financial Times, Nokia shares have fallen by more than a third during Suri’s time at the helm of the company.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic