Shokia: Oulu Nokia Worker Recalls Elop’s Announcement
Oulu Nokia worker tells 65DN about reaction to Elop’s announcement and why she thinks Nokia is failing so catastrophically.
37 year-old Sari Aaltonen (not her real name) has been working for Nokia in Oulu for five and a half years, having only come to the city because of her graphics design post with the then mobile giant.
‘But last Thursday we all got an email saying that there was going to be an announcement.’
The Nokia workers were asked to go to an ‘information session’ in the cafeteria which involved watching a live cast of Elop’s decision on a series of big screens.
According to Aaltola, ‘We are used to bad news’ but when asked if anyone was expecting what Elop had to say, she pauses before answering, ‘Maybe a little, but . . . no. It was shocking.’
Initially people reacted by moving into Finnish – in the all-English working environment – to make absolutely sure that they had understood what Elop was saying.
‘People then started laughing and making jokes. Some people simply couldn’t believe what they’d just heard!’
Immediately, everybody rushed to find out which projects would continue and that’s when it transpired that Sari would definitely be one of the hundreds to be let go.
‘My project was totally killed at that time,’ she asserts. ‘That’s it.’ Sari and her team found it difficult to comprehend that everything which they had been working on for such a long time was simply going to be ‘shut down.’
Sari blames Nokia’s decline on inability to look into the future. ‘The big bosses simply can’t see what was coming,’ she explains, points out that only a few weeks ago, ‘Elop was saying that everything was fine. But everything’s changing so fast . . . it’s like they’re lying to us.’
For Sari, the sheer size and bureaucracy of Nokia means that ‘to act fast is impossible.’ But she suggests that the most important factor behind Nokia’s fall is that, ‘people are afraid of something totally new. They don’t have enough courage to run with a new idea.’ So, they start cancelling projects which might be original and achieve something.
Wondering if Nokia’s problems reflect something in Finnish mentality, Aaltola notes that since Elop – a Canadian who also has US citizenship – has arrived on the scene, ‘There is no mercy. Finnish people maybe didn’t have the heart to make very big decisions . . . but he is an outsider and he doesn’t have the sympathy.’
Sari feels ‘sad’ for Oulu and her country. ‘Nokia belongs to Oulu. For many people, Oulu means Nokia.’
‘There has always been Nokia in Finland. We are very proud to say, “Have you heard of Nokia? Do you know where it’s from?” We want people to know that it’s Finnish and it’s really hard to think that soon it probably won’t be Finnish anymore. We have been very proud of Nokia.’
Sari fears that Oulu will indeed see a decline in taxpayers and many skilled people will leave. But she’s optimistic as well. There are a lot of IT companies in the city and she’s convinced that ‘something will come up.’