Connecting People has always been one of my favorite slogans. So when I got a job at Nokia, first as contractor and a year later as full time employee, those two words became part of my daily practice, part of my life. As an extreme extrovert, the first time I saw Nokia San Diego campus, aka The Club Med, I felt like a kid in a candy store: tons of phones (sorry, I should say devices!) to play with and to… communicate with the world, and for free! Tons of smart people to share experiences with, not just coffee time chat or projects. Plenty of activities, volunteer opportunities, friendships to be formed, leadership to be admired, trails to be hiked, processes to be learned. The connections forged during those years (2005 to 2014) are still strong.
The Connecting People was not just a clever slogan, it materialized in building the language and culture gaps across the globe. All these years I was a proud member of the localization team, that big entity that was difficult to catalogue, to classify, to put in a box in an engineering oriented company. We were the rara avis, the funny folks, the ‘ones who translate’. It took so much effort and energy and passion for all of us in localization to evangelize how important was to reach the globe. The world does not speak only English and Finnish, and Nokia understood it very well.
Localization at Nokia was big, strong and bold like the white and blue colors of our logo. We all feel so proud of our contribution to the world via technology and making our devices speak the user’s language. A user was not a gray, nebulous entity, it was a person, we catered them. I loved how Nokia had people doing so much research about a multitude of demographics, creating all personas you can imagine and shaping products that catered their needs. People being able to say “I love you”, “I will be late for dinner” or “see you never” in languages I never heard of before, like Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati…even in my own native language Catalan! I am glad I had the opportunity to live, enjoy, suffer and learn from all these platforms, from CDMA days, to S40, from Symbian to the Lumia days with Microsoft.
From the localization and internationalization perspective, I have to still see a company that invests so much in finding out so many different and new ways to use our phones (first world issues versus emerging market real problems). I remember reading the studies of our researches in African villages where our most humble devices were used as the ‘public’ phone for a whole community and where people used the phone to transfer cash to nomadic communities. All that fascinating side of Nokia made Nokia a very special company. It was not all about hardware, software, plastics, metal, glass, prototypes… but also about people and how to connect them in their own language in their own context.
“Work smarter, not harder”, Jari Niemela would say in every all-hands meeting. I would retain that phrase in my memory forever. Thanks for all these years of continuous learning!