Back in 1994, when I was 23 and applied for a position at Nokia Telecommunications’ project office in Frankfurt, maybe I should have taken it as a sign of fate already that a distant friend, whom I had met as a teenager while camping in Portugal happened to work for this company. We hadn’t been in touch much, but when Nokia offered me the position, I remembered that he worked in telco and contacted him. I had another promising application going elsewhere and wanted his input. He encouraged me to take the job in Frankfurt, and I did. I started as a team assistant and later moved to the head office in Düsseldorf as Project Management Assistant for E-Plus, one of the biggest network implementation projects Nokia had going at the time. The company was growing significantly, and fast.

I hadn’t studied engineering but over the years learned a lot about the technology and responsibilities in project management. I loved the industry and felt that I was growing, too.

After four years, I began playing with the thought of going overseas. I had been to Australia before, on a holiday, and (unsurprisingly) loved it… so, early in 1998, I sent an open application to Nokia’s Sydney office. The reply: “We don’t have anything right now, but we’ll keep your details on file.” I wasn’t in a hurry and kept on with my busy life.

Skyline Nokia Optus
Skyline Optus Nokia

After four months, I got the phone call: “We have an opening in Sydney in the Optus project team. You have been in one of Nokia’s fastest GSM projects. You know the company workings. We’d like to interview you.”

Several phone calls and a hurried visa application later, I resigned from Nokia Germany and moved to North Sydney in September 1998, to start a new chapter on a two-year contract as National Project Coordinator.

After 10 months in the job, I got a bit homesick; I liked my work but felt lonely in my personal life. I put in my resignation letter and booked a flight to go back to Germany. My boss was great, he regretted that I wanted to leave, but he understood.

Susanne
Susanne in Sydney 2000 – Olympic flame

In mid-July, three weeks before I was due to leave Australia, Optus and Nokia organised a party to celebrate the end-of-financial-year achievements. And this… was the night I fell in love with a deployment engineer at Optus who is now my husband of 18 years. When a few days after the party I went to talk to my boss (at the risk of him thinking that I am a complete nutter), I only got to: “I’ve met someone”. He jumped in straight away, saying: “And now you want to stay? Awesome!” I ended up working at Nokia Sydney for another two years.

So much more has happened since then; my husband and I have two daughters and we now live in Brisbane, in Queensland, the Sunshine State. I no longer work in telco but am running my own business. There are so many things that influence a person’s life path – and I am convinced that Nokia has been a key player in mine.