CCOO leaving Nokia to run Apple’s India operations

The commercialization of 5G is set for a big year in 2019 given operator plans and the timeline for handset availability. With Verizon claiming a world’s first with the activation of its 5G Home fixed wireless service this year, the U.S. is a key market for network infrastructure vendors. As such, Nokia this week reorganized its customer organization to ensure “extreme customer focus,” as CEO Rajeev Suri put it.

Specifically, Rick Corker will become the president of customer operations for the Americas region and Federico Guillén will become president of customer operations for EMEA and APAC. After 15 years with the company, Ashish Chowdhary, current chief customer operations officer, will make an exit at the end of the year; he’s taking a job at Apple as head of operations in India.

On a quarterly earnings call earlier this year, Suri said 2019 and 2020 would provide a “clear path” to better performance “as the 5G super-cycle takes hold.”

He echoed that view in a statement regarding the reorganization: “As we enter the 5G era, extreme customer focus is a must. The changes we are announcing today will ensure that we continue to have the senior management capacity necessary for superb customer relationships in a world of increasing speed and complexity.”

The move from Nokia is somewhat similar to an earlier announcement from competitor Ericsson, which is seeing North American operator investments in 5G as driving growth in the its networks business. In August the company announced it would increase R&D work done in the U.S. and shorten the timeline for new product development.

When Ericsson reported its Q2 financials last month, company executives detailed a 1% year-over-year decrease in total sales, although the networks segment saw a 2% increase year-over-year with North American (U.S.) operators investments in 5G  driving that growth.

In August Ericsson CEO Börje Eckholm said, “The United States is our largest market, accounting for a quarter of Ericsson’s business over the last seven years. To serve the demand of these fast-moving service providers, we are strengthening our investment in the U.S. to be even closer to our customers and meet their accelerated…deployment plans.”

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