Friday marked my last day with Nokia. Today, I join Microsoft as a part of the company’s massive purchase of Nokia’s devices business. Lurking right beneath the mechanics of the transfer – the processes, procedures, policies, buildings, and finances – are enough people to fill a small city. Think about how meaningful your first day at your current employer felt to you. Now multiply that by about 25,000, and that’s what today is like for all of us who are migrating from Nokia to Microsoft.
In my experience, it can take up to six months to acclimate to a new corporate environment. Before that transformation gains its inevitable momentum, I want to share my personal reflections on what working for Nokia meant to me.
I have a one word summary for how I feel about the company I leave behind: gratitude.
That’s because Nokia invited me to join its developer operations in a marketing role in 2006, or one full year before anyone in the general public had heard of the iPhone. I quickly came to recognize just what a golden opportunity this has been.
I had spent the previous seven years marketing video games to consumers and had always known that no one out-worked or felt more passionately about games than the developers who built them. Going to work for an organization that focused solely on stimulating the supply of apps by appealing to developers gave me a chance to work more closely with them than ever before.
Since joining Nokia, I’ve held a variety of positions that have enabled me to evolve my marketing skills just as the discipline transformed from the familiar backbone of television, print, and digital to social media, search, and mobile. I eventually landed the job I always coveted at Nokia: finding ways to insinuate apps into device marketing campaigns and drive app downloads for the key developers who have built for the software platforms we support.
Thanks to Nokia, I’ve been focused on apps and developers since well before every company realized it needed a mobile strategy. Along the way, I’ve been privileged to work with and learn from some really smart people, both at Nokia and the app developers we have supported. Microsoft soon will recognize the brainpower it has inherited.
What might take longer to recognize is the spirit of caring that permeates Nokia’s culture. I discovered that first hand when I had to endure a family medical crisis late in 2012. My manager ordered me off work for two full weeks. My coworkers sent me a food basket from Zabar’s that, as my mother put it, was big enough to feed an El Salvadoran village. Only companies possessing Nokia’s humanity empower their employees to circle the wagons around one another when the messiness of life gets in the way, as it did for me and my family.
Because many of these people join me at Microsoft, I do not feel sad today. Quite the contrary.
It hasn’t all been great. The last few years in particular have been the hardest I’ve ever encountered. I used to work for Atari, and people said things about that company that I have heard said about Nokia over the years. Both companies are frequently misidentified as being Japanese. Consumers associate each with pioneering their respective fields, but especially here in the U.S., that nostalgia has struggled to translate to hoped-for results. In that way, both companies were challenged by a marketing fundamental: cultivating a meaningful brand identity.
Atari and Nokia differ in one very important way, though: the latter was founded about 149 years ago and has reinvented itself on numerous occasions. I am fortunate to have had a chance to work there during 4.6 percent of its lifetime and to witness its latest and perhaps most dramatic and scrutinized transformation. It should surprise no one that the new Nokia is positioned to thrive once again.
To it I say “thank you.”