My Derailed Journey Back to Nokia

This is a highly personal post so for those whose eyes roll or minds reel at the thought, click past this one and I promise more juicy tech stuff next.

As regular readers know, I lost a great job with an awesome company in January of 2009.  As of this past Monday I started a challenging new role with what seems like another awesome company so far.  In between, I worked at something that didn’t work out while keeping an eye on Nokia opportunities the whole time.   

Now, maybe I need to qualify that last statement.  It’s not like I’m ever going to “phone in” performance at any employer.  I worked hard at my previous position.  But I could have made much, much more of the role had I been so empowered… and it was extremely difficult going from the can-do culture at Finland’s single largest employer to an organization that could have used a best-practice infusion at the very least.

I’ve related here and there some lessons learned before and after my Nokia job loss and I will repeat them here for the interested readers’ sake.  Not just to bemoan my own mistakes, but perhaps help others from making the same ones.

But first I want to share some things with Nokia.

You really were an awesome employer.  There’s no such thing as absolutely perfect, but you were close enough for me.  You provided me opportunities I never could have previously imagined.  Thanks to you I’ve been to Finland, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, England and Mexico (not to mention states here in the US).  I was already open to cultures other than my own but you cracked my mind wider.

The projects I was given, and others I was able to initiate thanks to your empowerment, had me eagerly racing into work on Mondays when others dreaded the drive.  It’s an almost indescribable feeling.  Like I was being paid to play.

When you closed the Alliance factory I was almost in tears.  Many colleagues did indeed cry.  We were a family.  A tight, talented family that kicked ass if I might say.  I still believe there was value in what we did for the US market.  I still believe we had the skills and strengths to turn around your prospects here.  I just hope you’re truly serious about pulling that off.

You emphasized Connecting People at every level, every entry and exit point.  I wasn’t good at that at first.  You helped.  In three years I went from a stuttering introvert to a much more confident trainer, presenter and business explorer.  You demanded it.  Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone.

I didn’t get it as well as I should have.  Sure, I networked globally with 400 to 500 people on a regular basis, but I neglected key parties on my home turf.  So when you (mistakenly) decided my critical role was superfluous, I discovered the hard way that I had not made managers at the fringe of my circle aware of who I really was and what I could do for them.  You were good enough to give me two months to find another internal opportunity, and they did exist, but the hiring managers declined to interview me because of my former failure to fully network.  Ouch. Lesson learned… painfully.

But it wasn’t all me.  In the past three years I’ve noticed you doing some odd, even counterproductive things with regards to hiring.  I’m mystified by why you deleted the “Global/Location Negotiable” job classification out of your Taleo  career system.  Many of your employees can and do operate virtually.  So how do you classify them now?  And why did you remove that for new prospects?  I don’t get it; virtual is the trend!

Then there was the extremely frustrating experience of applying for jobs that were available.  On one I was told I was overqualified and would not be considered.  I replied that the economy here had dropped just about everyone down a job grade so that was not an issue.  Still no go.  The job was closed without being filled, then re-opened weeks later, same exact description.  I applied again, and this time was told I was underqualified.

Really?

There were so many other chances at roles I could fulfill.  But no interviews.  I still don’t know why.

I came so close to rejoining you a month ago, though– I was even told to expect an interview!  But you dashed those hopes by deleting the opening… along with, I now hear, the jobs of more friends and colleagues.  That’s hard news to swallow, and I can only hope your master plan is on track.  Of course I also hope that every released employee finds another good opportunity as soon as possible.

But hey, I’m not writing just to lament lost opportunities.  I’m throwing myself into what I’m doing now.  An even though I failed to rejoin you, I’ve stayed close.  In 2009 after a brief hiatus I shifted my focus in the Maemo community from technical liaison to outreach.  Being elected to the community council is what got me to Amsterdam.  Helping the MeeGo community later got me a trip to Dublin.  More recently, participation in your Nokia Developer Champion program helped land me in England for Nokia World 2011.  Friends and family don’t quite get why you do these things without hiring me back, and I have been trying to explain the perks of volunteerism in response.  Personally I feel well-rewarded!  I strongly urge everyone, especially young people, to volunteer in activities that interest them.  One never knows where that might lead.

I had hoped to eventually leverage that volunteer work into a related role within your walls, but it looks like you’re not ready for that yet– at least, not in my neck of the woods.  Everything these days seems to revolve around Beijing and Sunnyvale.  The Irving office is about to lose more employees and I don’t know for sure your plans for its future.

But I did just have my Champion status renewed for another year, so I’m looking forward to our continued relationship.  I will proudly carry (and show off!) my gorgeous N9 and when my Lumia 800 arrives, I’ll try to give it equal time.  I’m even hoping to develop for both (currently struggling with Qt).  I want you to succeed, for a variety of reasons, and I will continue to do my small part in that… paid, unpaid or what have you.  So ping me when you need me!

I still believe in you.  You truly were an awesome employer.  It’s just a shame I could not put “Nokia” back on my resumé.

But life goes on.

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11 responses to “My Derailed Journey Back to Nokia

  1. There’s an appropriate few pieces of Bible here… but the key one, “wisdom is the principle thing; so get it, and with all your getting, also gain understanding.” My friend, I think you’ve nailed that better than many of us could ever hope to with this posting and your actions that framed it.

  2. Thanks for sharing!

    “Enjoy your job and everything else will come to you.” is how my Mom raised me. You’re in that place for the better part of 40 hours a week, you need to be in a work environment that makes you happy or at least doesn’t make you depressed/stressed.

    When I worked for DHL I had that. I genuinely enjoyed going into work Monday to start the week, though of course some days were a chore! I even have that now at my current job, I really enjoy what I do and it’s an awesome place to work for…but that’s a part of a problem too sometimes for an employee.

    “to work for” can be depressing to say. Working FOR a company is not the same as working WITH a company. It’s similar to “talking TO” or “talking WITH” a person. Most people don’t even realize/recognize there’s a difference, but I bet you do too. :)

    Hope your Monday commutes into your new job can someday make you have that warm fuzzy “I get paid to play!?” feeling you use to have when working with Nokia.

    And who knows, if Windows Phone devices take off for Nokia, maybe they’ll look at re-investing some manpower into the States? Going for one of those positions should be a lot different if they were to happen at that point, their goals would have shifted a little I imagine.

  3. As a holder of both devices, how does the N9 compare to the N950?

    I wish I could get into Nokia Developer stuff… After Maemo, it wasn’t really fun for me, and I’m not into volunteering in hopes of freebies… I miss the fun times of Maemo hacking, before “security” locked us out…

    • Well, I’m biased… the only keyboards I like are the style on devices like the E71. So I really prefer the N9 if I’m going to use a touchscreen device. I like it a lot better than the N950. The display seems sharper, and it’s a sexier design.

      And please don’t get me wrong: I didn’t start “volunteering in hopes of freebies”. That turned out to be nice icing on the cake.

      I miss the fun old times of MeeGo too… and my tweet about creating some kind of virtual company was sincere. There’s a lot of talent in our crowd… just gotta channel it. ;)

      Oh, and as for Nokia Developer– I was nominated based on community work.

      • Texrat, I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was simply saying that my motivation for any of those programs at this point would only be for the free stuff, and that isn’t good enough for me. I’m not as motivated by the community leadership stuff as you are…

      • Gotcha, Qole…. sorry for the misunderstanding!

  4. Re-reading this I realize it comes across as whining and not at all like the cathartic “travelogue” I had meant. Sorry about that… a good testament to letting some articles simmer overnight.

    And I got some surprising news today, that’s both encouraging and saddening: my last boss at Nokia tried to bring me back, Twice. Both times the req was cancelled… but he tried! :)

  5. Pingback: More Post-MeeGo Musing: Community Echoes | Tabula Crypticum

  6. Pingback: An Introvert’s Guide to the Spotlight – Randall "Texrat" Arnold

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