I left Nokia some six years ago and during these years I have met a large number of ex-Nokians, both in Finland and abroad. This was of course at the Summer and Christmas Parties, but also at work and hobbies.
A couple of observations: it is encouraging to see that overwhelming majority has found an interesting new career. This is often in a corporation, maybe working with something close to Nokia’s domain. Or more often in a new industry, where digitalisation is gaining ground. In car industry, media or machine building, for example.
I say “new interesting”, because many are working in a startup or for startups. By the way, the emergence of startups is what Finland is famous for, as you saw at Slush. This is where ex-Nokians have played a role. Of course let’s remember the role of Nokia itself as it had the Bridge program for leavers.
Then there are folks who have changed careers: nursing, teaching, farming are just some of the new paths. There is also an ex-Nokian lady who runs a laundry service, I hear!
But business changes fast and a lot of that change is due to digitalisation. New generation is growing up. For them, the Internet is not the new-new thing and Artificial Intelligence will be a usual business tool once they graduate.
And we are exactly not getting younger exactly… so what to do?
Well, what we do have is experience and networks. That’s what companies are often looking for. Experience is self-explanatory, but an interesting observation is that I know several people who have benefited from their network of connections. And I do not mean just getting recommendations for an interview, but the connections is what they bring to the company.
I am not talking of CEO level networks here (which of course may be very important!), but manager and specialist level ones.
This is valid also for startups: a young eager tech team has in many cases hired a senior person for sales, bizdev or for strategic advisory role.
Paradoxically, while “all the information is in the Internet”, it is becoming increasingly important to know who is doing what and where.
If you look at companies web pages, you really do not know how they are doing, what is the atmosphere, how are R&D projects proceeding, is the staff motivated and so on. A 10 minute friendly chat with a person you know and you have a fairly good understanding of whole industry. Or if not an industry, maybe a subsector.
Then who are the world champs in this networking game? There is no official competition, but my claim is the Irish. I lived for two years in Dublin and it was very clear how the Irish network created a lot of positive impact to the economy… and to Irish people. They were present in the USA and everywhere. Maybe it is due to the history, the culture and other factors, but the Irish people are very social in a nice way. And they are like this all the time, I argue.
Now I do believe at least in Finland we are better in engineers and tech (will debate over a pint of Guinness or Kilkenny 😉 ) but at least we Finns have a lot to learn. If you cannot chat with a customer, how can you interpret her words? Read between the polite lines? If you cannot do that, how can you understand her feedback of your product? If you don’t, well how can your company then develop a winning product, no matter how good is your tech?
And with the Irish, this network and social attitude has taken centuries to evolve. This is understandable. For myself, learning to know and trust a person deeply does not happen instantly, no matter how open or social I feel. A prime example is LinkedIn. There I have received a couple of invitations from people who seemed relevant professionally. Then right away there has been a message attempting to sell something. What a negative.
That is just too superficial and creates a poor basis for a social connection, not even a business-life oriented one.
I am not really an extroverted person, but I have been in situations that have taught me to value the various personalities around and to get interested in their personalities and ways of thinking. I have lived abroad, played basketball and maybe the fairly wide social context has helped here?
For me, a connection is a human-value investment of sorts. A long-term topic. It is of course mentally difficult to associate money to the equation, and I don’t think that works as prime motivator. But in general, people do like to deal with people who understand them and their feelings.
And listening to the views of others sometimes works not so well, sometimes better. But hopefully I am evolving in this demanding skill.
In a wider context, I claim Nokia taught Finland not only how to develop, deploy and manage technologies, but how to do international business, create networks and set high enough targets.
This culture is something we all should value and to build on! And a Summer and Christmas party is a very nice and practical occasion for this.
So considering our common Nokia experiences, the exciting new hobbies and professions people have discovered and the phase we are in, it is great to organise the Christmas and Summer party. The one on Wednesday will be the 12th and again, there are some great people working together.
Such a pleasure to bring people together!
Yes, times are fairly good and in Finland actually quite good as the economy is growing nicely. Let’s knock on wood as two-three years ago it was not like this at all.