Leader Emerges from Oulu’s ‘Nokia 700′
Oulu’s 700 sacked Nokia employees are already getting organised. A leader has emerged and has set up a closed communication portal and a website – Oulu Talents – to encourage businesses to transfer to Oulu and take advantage of their skills.
Pekka Väyrynen, who has worked for Nokia for 25 years and is head of Product Creation in Oulu, was officially told that he was being ‘streamlined’ last week but it had been obvious to him that his entire project – the details of which he cannot disclose for reasons of ‘confidentiality’ – would be shut down since the infamous announcement on 14th June. Amongst Nokia employees ‘14th June’ is a notorious date and the word ‘announcement’ does not even need to be added.
Accordingly, Väyrynen – still working for Nokia until the end of the summer – decided to take a lead in letting the world now about ‘the 700’ redundant but ‘highly skilled’ ex-Nokia workers in Oulu; encouraging international businesses to move their operations to Oulu to make full use of them.
A closed LinkedIn page permits the 700 to communicate with each other and Väyrynen has established a website ‘Oulu Talents’ which acts a kind of gatekeeper to contacting them.
His website does all that it can to stress, and he explains to 65DN, that, ‘These people have been streamlined, fired . . . whatever. But these people are now available. They range from the very experienced to the newcomers. Many of them have 25 years of experience working on mobile and wireless devices.’
For Väyrynen, the misfortune of ‘the 700’ is in fact a ‘unique opportunity’ for companies interested in R and D (research and development). If they want experienced and skilled new employees, ‘they do not have to go far’ – his website, in this regard, explains where Oulu is situated. ‘They can get everything they want . . . from low level hardware programmers to experts on interface design and radio frequency.’
According to Oulu Talents, the 700 have been ‘hand picked’ and when asked what he means by this Väyrynen argues that Nokia has witnessed, until now, a slow culling process whereby only the ‘best guys’ have survived. Accordingly, the survivors of this process are ‘all really competent.’
In addition the 14th June meant not simply the firing of a few people in each team but the sacking of entire project teams.
‘Full teams are available! So I thought, “Let’s put it on the internet and make it clear that we have got something really special here.”’
Väyrynen explains that if any company contacts Oulu Talents and explains what they’re looking for, he will probably be able to find the right person or group of people. He takes no commission, doing this because he’s one of 700 and seemingly felt that somebody had to take the initiative.
‘I just thought it was a really sad thing that had happened. There are plenty of IT companies in Oulu but with 700 becoming unemployed at the same time it will be impossible for them all to get work unless we try to bring in new players.’
The 700, according to Väyrynen, include not just Finns but 12 nationalities . . . ‘English, American, Indian, French, German . . .’
And lot them – despite some having offers from China or the USA – would really like to stay in Oulu if possible.
‘Many have family here and houses here and are not willing to leave,’ says Väyrynen.
Man Gu, who has been in Finland for ten years working for Nokia the whole time, is one of them. She actually began her career with the company thirteen years ago when she was still living in China.
‘I would really like to stay in Oulu,’ exclaimed Gu ‘I love the people here. They are very friendly and have a very honest quality. I have a good quality of life here. Oulu is part of my life.’
‘Oulu has high quality resources and many high quality engineers. I think the website is important because it will help people,’ she said, adding that ‘Oulu has some very good engineers and we have to do something now. We have to save ourselves. We have to be independent.’
Frenchwoman Morgone Fleuriot, 32, has been in Oulu for six years working for Nokia. ‘I hope I can stay here. I like the nature, like the way of life and I like the quiet,’ she told 65DN.
Many of the Finns amongst the 700 have been in Oulu at least since they were students at Oulu University. Väyrynen has worked in the USA but still has strong connections to city, having attained his degree here.
Väyrynen insists that it is better for companies to come to Oulu rather than have ‘the 700’ dispersed around the world.
‘Oulu has all this competence. Northern Finland is quite inexpensive. The salary for an engineer is much less than in Germany or even China.’
‘Finnish workers are competent and loyal. In Beijing, people are only after money and the turnover rates are very high but Finland is very different. People in northern Finland are stubborn and cautious and want to complete their tasks.’
For Väyrynen, these ‘Finnish’ personality characteristics are behind the success of Nokia. When asked if they’re also behind its failure, he says only, ‘When we fail we admit it and move into something else.’
‘With Oulu Talents I think it is a very nice thing that a leader has taken the initiative, especially for such a big group of the people . . . that is very rare,’ added Morgone Fleuriot. ‘Let’s just hope it’s worth it.’