Telstra adds former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to leadership team

Elop oversaw sale of Nokia’s handset division to Microsoft, before returning to the software company to lead its devices business

Stephen Elop

Stephen Elop

Telstra today revealed it had recruited the former Nokia CEO who oversaw the sell-off of its handset business to Microsoft before joining the software vendor to head up its devices group.

Stephen Elop will take on the newly created role of ‘group executive technology, innovation and strategy’, Telstra announced today.

At Nokia, Elop — who came to the company from Microsoft — oversaw a major shift that saw the dumping of Symbian and MeeGo in favour of Windows Phone as the handset OS of choice.

Microsoft announced in 2013 that it acquire Nokia’s Devices and Services business, which included handsets, for US$7 billion. Elop returned to Microsoft to lead the company’s devices business as part of the acquisition.

Microsoft’s move is widely considered a failure, with Windows Phone still failing to seriously challenge iOS and Android, and the company in 2015 writing off almost the entire purchase price of the Nokia handset business.

Telstra said Elop “will have responsibility for leading Telstra’s strategy to become a world class technology company”.

Elop will report directly to CEO Andrew Penn. The executive will be based jointly in the US and Australia

Telstra said that Elop’s Technology, Innovation and Strategy portfolio will include the Chief Technology Office, Chief Scientist, Telstra Software Group and Corporate Strategy.

“I have long recognised the Telstra team as one of the most innovative and insightful in the telecommunications industry. Telstra has a strong focus on its customers, and a willingness to invest in advanced products and services to best serve those customers,” Elop said in a statement.

“I am excited to be joining the team at a particularly unique moment of opportunity for Telstra.”

“Stephen will immediately add major firepower to our team with his extensive and deep technology experience and an innate sense of customer expectations,” Penn said.

“He is a recognised international technology leader and strategist from across a range of global organisations.”

Elop’s new role begins on 4 April.

Telstra also today announced that former Optus head Kevin Russell will head up the telco's consumer division.

Read more: Telstra’s Philippines joint venture falls through

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