BusinessPeople In BusinessRinging the changes – Nokia’s new CFO

Ringing the changes - Nokia's new CFO

Nokia surprised everyone by appointing a virtual unknown to the high-profile CFO role, so who is he?

Mobile phone conglomerate Nokia has appointed a new CFO in a surprise board
reshuffle. Current CFO Rick Simonson is leaving to head up the devices unit,
while global head of sales Timo Ihamuotila will take his place in charge of the
finances.

What’s happened?
The news came straight after Nokia announced an unexpected third-quarter loss,
which hasn’t happened since 1998. The Q3 loss of $836m (£512m) was blamed on a
write-down of the Nokia Siemens Network investment and declining sales of its
mobile phones, particularly smartphones where other players, such as the iPhone
­ the patents for which Nokia is sueing Apple over ­ are rapidly eating away at
the Finnish firm’s market share.

A spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that “job rotations” like
Ihamuotila’s were quite common among Nokia’s executives, but was mysteriously
silent on when, or why, the change was decided.

Despite being global head of sales for a huge brand, very little is known
about Ihamuotila. One thing is for certain: with investors closely scrutinising
the company on the back of their dismal results, the publicity-shy Finn is bound
to be thrust quite roughly into the limelight.

Ihamuotila, a graduate of the Helsinki School of Economics, left his role as
an analyst in a Finnish bank to join Nokia in 1993 as a manager of dealing and
risk management. After working elsewhere for three years, he rejoined Nokia in
1999 and has now spent the past ten years in a series of roles, including being
appointed corporate treasurer from 2000 until 2004. He has been on the Nokia
Group executive board since 2007, yet press attention has been scarce until now.

Nokia’s CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, said: “Timo Ihamuotila’s expertise from
leading a diverse range of business areas will be a tremendous asset in his
position as CFO.”
One wonders how the outgoing head of sales and former corporate finance director
proposes to turn the company’s fortunes around.

What happens next?
Ihamuotila is no stranger to finance. As well as being appointed corporate
treasurer, he also worked as senior vice president at Nokia’s CDMA business unit
in California, where his Nokia website biography describes him as being
“responsible for the financial results and the overall strategic direction of
Nokia’s global CDMA operations”. In theory, then, his new role shouldn’t be too
far from his previous experiences.

The job change will be happening on 1 November. Analysts have indicated that
Simonson is just what the mobile phone business unit needs to shake things up.
Indeed, Nokia’s last two chief executives had plotted their career paths as CFOs
before becoming CEOs via a move to the mobile phone business. It will be
interesting to see if the little-known, tennis-loving Ihamuotila is looking to
follow a similar path.

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