There is a nice article at Digitoday in Finland about me, as I was visiting Turku, Tampere, Oulu and Helsinki this past week with the Mobile Monday (MoMo) tour called 'Be Inspired' with my dear friends and co-authors Jari Tammisto, Jouko Ahvenainen, Alan Moore plus several other mobile industry experts.
Digitoday article originally identified me based on my comments but later edited the article to add Nokia's response and points out that there is disagreement about what I did at Nokia. So the article says now in Finnish:
"Myös siitä on erimielisyyttä, mikä Ahosen toimenkuva Nokialla oikein oli. Hän itse sanoo työskennelleensä Nokian verkkoyksikössä segmentointipäällikkönä ja myöhemmin konsultointiosaston johtajana. Nokia sanoo hänen työskennelleen markkinointipäällikkönä verkkoyksikössä."
This is my translation of that paragraph into English:
"Also, there is disagreement about what was Ahonen's job description at Nokia. He himself says he had worked in Nokia's networking unit as a Segmentation Manager and later as the Head of the Consulting department. Nokia says he had worked as a Marketing Manager in the networking unit."
So? What is the truth? I have never been employed as a "Marketing Manager" at Nokia (nor at any of my previous employers). I would like to see some evidence of this. You can Google me, and try to find one article in any contemporary press story from 2001 or before, that identified me as a 'Marketing Manager'.
I am now travelling in Finland. When I return home to Hong Kong next week, I will scan all my Nokia business cards and post them here so you can see what kind of cards Nokia gave me. I was a 'Product Manager' at the FSG business unit of Nokia Telecommunications from 1998. I then became a Segmentation Manager at the TGW unit of Nokia Networks and ended my Nokia career as Global Head of 3G Business Consultancy, at Nokia headquarters at Nokia from 2000 to 2001. I have never been a 'Marketing Manager' but I have been both a "Segmentation Manager" and the "Head" of the Consultancy department. To be very clear, the way Nokia always translated 'Marketing Manager' was 'markkinointipaallikko'. 'Segmentation Manager' was 'segmentointipaallikko' and department heads with the title of 'Head' was translated as 'johtaja'. Note that by calling me a 'manager' (paallikko) rather than 'head' (johtaja) - Nokia is trying to minimise my role perhaps to diminish the credibility of me in that article. I do find it bizarre that Nokia resorts to this kind of diminishing of my tasks.
So before we get to my scanned business cards, here are some links from various contemporary press interviews in telecoms and business press published in that period, that use the term 'Head of Business Consultancy' or very similar terms, when I was representing Nokia formally, at Nokia press conferences or in press interviews at Nokia Headquarters:
The Economist ("Head of 3G Business Consulting") on Oct 11, 2001
Conference report from Commslive by Total Telecom ("Head 3G Business Consultancy") on Nov 27, 2000
Speaking at UMTS Congress in Barcelona at Nokia official press conference Silicon Investor ("Head of 3G Business Consultancy") Oct 17, 2000
Total Telecom ("Head of 3G Business Consultancy") on Oct 12, 2000
That is four press references, covering three different publications, and mentioning two separate telecoms conferences, from 2000 to 2001, all reporting my title as "Head 3G Business Consultancy". I think its pretty safe to say, at least the press coverage of me, representing Nokia formally, including at the biggest telecoms event of our industry, all were consistent in calling me 'Head of' the Nokia 3G Business Consultancy department. Never a 'Marketing Manager'. Feel free to Google me and all press coverage mentioning me from 1998 to 2001.
But before I get home, I can give you one bit of evidence of what Nokia itself said at that time. This is a screen shot of the official Nokia DVD about 3G, called 'One Day', which Nokia was distributing in 2001. They included interviews of four executives from Nokia Headquarters to that DVD (most of the DVD is about Nokia's vision of the future with videos showing what that future would look like). So this is the title they printed onto the screen on the DVD, when my interview starts. This can not be a typo or misunderstanding by a journalist, if this is the official Nokia DVD about 3G:
So there is both evidence from official Nokia materials, and from contemporary press articles, and evidence from telecoms conferences where I was presenting officially on Nokia's behalf, at least in the period of 2000-2000, that I was identified to be the "Head of 3G Business Consultancy" (or 'Consulting') for Nokia.
Nokia is once again attempting to play dirty in its squabbles with me. I thought they were past this, with Elop removed from the post of CEO.
I would love Nokia to show any proof in any way, any public domain Nokia documents, any publications, any conference brochures, any press interviews, contemporary from the period of 1998-2001, where I have been listed as 'Marketing Manager'. I would certainly like to find that there was 'more' that I accomplished in my time there, haha...
UPDATE 26 Sept - ok, now I have the scans of my old business cards. Sorry it took longer than I expected, I have been walking around with the 3 cards in my pocket leaving in the morning to my meetings intending to find a convenient scanner at whatever place I was going to that day, and then arriving home at night, discovering the cards in my pocket and noticing I had forgotten, again. Who needs scanners anymore (and I didn't want to do the digital photo scan substitute, those aren't the same quality haha)
So here they are. My 3 business cards, first is from 1998 when I was hired at Nokia Telecommunications as Product Manager. You can see the address on the card too, it was at Hiomotie 5 in Pitajanmaki in Helsinki. The second card is when I was named Segmentation Manager at Nokia Networks in 1999, at the Valimotie 9 address also in Pitajanmaki in Helsinki. The third card is the last job I held at Nokia, from 2000 to 2001 as Global Head of 3G Business Consultancy, which was at Nokia Headquarters building at Keilalahdentie 4 in Espoo - yes the glass building always seen in news stories about Nokia. I have never been 'Marketing Manager' at Nokia (nor at any other company in my career).
Now, someone who has a really suspicious mind could still claim that I manufactured these cards myself. So, is there any evidence by outside sources that I held those offices at those times. I have the following proof that I can provide.
The first job, Product Manager, I have no press references. I did represent Nokia, however, as Product Manager, at conferences. At the IIR Voice Resale Conference in London 20-22 April, 1999, I was a speaker and the conference brochure listed me as 'Product Manager' at Nokia. Also at the Telecom Pricing Conference by IIR in London 22-23 June 1999, I was listed in the brochure as 'Product Manager' at Nokia. I was the chairman of the Bundling Strategies Conference by IIR in London on 21 June, 1999, which brochure listed me as 'Product Manager' at Nokia.
For my second job, Segmentation Manager, I also did not have press visibility - segmentation is a very dark science and is not served well if discussed in the public press.. but I was again representing Nokia at conferences. At the Telecom Pricing Conference by IIR in Prague on 22-24 November I was listed in the brochure as 'Segmentation Manager' at Nokia. At the Fixed-Mobile Billing Conference in by Vision in Business in London on 29 November 1999 I was listed in the conference brochure as 'Segmentation Manager' at Nokia. And at the Voice Data and Internet conference by IIR in London on 14-16 February 2000, I was again listed in the conference brochure as 'Segmentation Manager' Nokia.
Finally on the third card and the end of my career at Nokia. I did speak on behalf of Nokia at various events always under the title of 'Head of Business Consultancy' or similar title (variations "Global Head" or "Consulting" or "3G Business"). I represented Nokia at official Nokia Press Conferences at the Nokia 3G Conference in Vienna on 12 September 2000, the Nokia Technology Day in Espoo on 25 September 2000, the UMTS Forum in Barcelona on 11 October 2000, the 3G Event for the Press by Cap Gemini in Helsinki on 15 November 2000, the 3GSM World Congress (world's largest telecoms event) in Cannes France 21-22 February 2001, the 3G A Profitable Reality conference by Nokia in Helsinki on 19 June 2001 and the 3G Germany conference by BNP Paribas in Bonn on 12 September 2001. These press conferences resulted in over 100 press mentions in over 20 languages, where I am invariably listed as 'Head of Business Consultancy' or similar.
These resulted in press mentions at least in the following press: 3G.Brazil, 3G Insight, Annyway Mobile News., Asia Pacific Mobile Analyst, Challenges, Communication Week, Commslive, Computerwire, Computerworld, Economist, Finanstidningen, Global Mobile, Intekom, IT Week, M for Mobile, Management Team Netherlands, Mobile Communications, Mobile Internet, Network World Germany, Nettavisen Telecom Norge, Revolution, Silicon.com, The 451, Tietoviikko, Total Telecom, WAP Insight, Wireless World Nederlands, Wow Wireless
I do not have anywhere near a complete collection of my press clippings, there were just far too many. Nokia Press Relations celebrated my contribution at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes in 2001 as the biggest number of press quotes by one Nokia executive ever achieved, you can believe there were tons, in all sorts of languages. But the above is a representative sample, most of those press quoted me many times. I have a few of the press clippings. I went through them and tried to find mentions of my title. I found the following:
3G Insight on 18 June 2001: "global head of Nokia's 3G Business Consultancy"
3G Mobile on 7 March 2001: "head of 3G business consulting at Nokia"
3G.br on 28 February 2001: "head of Nokia's 3G division"
Annyway Mobile News on 20 July 2001: "Global Head of Nokia's 3G Business Consultancy"
Asia Pacific Mobile Analyst on 14 March 2001: "head of 3G business consulting at Nokia"
Challenges January 2001: "le directeur de la stratégie 3G"
Communications Week 27 Nov 2000: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia Networks"
Communications Week 5 March 2001: "global head of the 3G business consultancy at Nokia Oyj"
Computerwire 25 Feb 2001: "Nokia's head of 3G business planning"
Economist on 13 Oct 2001: "head of 3G Business Consulting at Nokia"
Finanstidningen 7 March 2001: "Nokias 3G-konsult"
Global Mobile on 26 February 2001: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia"
Global Mobile on 11 April 2001: "head of Nokia's 3G business consulting department"
Intekom on 9 March 2001: "head of business consultancy for mobile communications giant, Nokia"
IT Week on 6 March 2001: "head of business consultancy for mobile communications giant, Nokia"
M for Mobile on 7 March 2001: "head of 3G business consulting at Nokia"
M for Mobile on 30 May 2001: "Global Head of Nokia’s 3G Business Consultancy"
Management Team Netherlands on 28 March 2001: "de baas van Nokia's 3G Business Consultancy"
Mobile Communications on 23 January 2001: "head of Nokia's 3G business consultancy"
Mobile Internet on 9 March 2001: "head of 3G business consulting at Nokia"
Nettavisen Norge on 4 April 2001: "Nokias 3G-konsulent"
Revolution on 28 February 2001: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia Networks"
Silicon.com on 22 February 2001: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia"
The 451 on 13 Oct 2000: "Nokia's head of 3G business consultancy"
The 451 on 17 Nov 2000: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia"
Tietoviikko 25 Feb 2001: "Nokia's head of 3G business planning"
Total Telecom 12 Oct 2000: "head of 3G business consultancy at Nokia"
Total Telecom on 21 Feb 2001: "global head of the 3G business consultancy"
Total Telecom on 3 April 2001: "global head of Nokia's 3G Business Consultancy"
WAP Insight on 18 June 2001: "global head of Nokia's 3G Business Consultancy"
Note, there are some clear errors - Nettavisen and Finanstidningen have abbreviated my title to being just a consultant (not head of the department). but 3G.br had given me a massive promotion, calling me the head of Nokia's 3G division haha. Challenges also promoted me to 3G strategy director. We have a few translations here, baas ie boss by Management Team Netherlands, and le directeur by Challenges in France.
I think its pretty consistent, allowing for some translation errors and perhaps imperfect command of the English language, the errors were all in non-English speaking press and even they got part of it right. If 24 separate press publications mention my title, in a total of 30 articles, and every one of them is some variation of 'head of business consulting' and this is over a period of more than a year, then yes, its very likely that this was how Nokia presented me to the world...
And obviously there was some public speaking too. Try 3 Conference Chairmanships and 13 Telecoms Conference Speakerships in nine countries on three continents, always - ALWAYS the conference brochure identified me as a 'Head of Business Consulting' or something like that.
So. What do you think, folks. Try to Google 'Tomi Ahonen' and 'Marketing Manager' you won't find one press reference anywhere with that title. Not during my time at Nokia 1998-2001 nor any time before or after, except now that ludicrous claim by Nokia in response to the article in Digitoday. And if you Google 'Tomi Ahonen' and 'Head of' you will find about 18,000 mentions of me, often in the past tense obviously, talking of what I used to do, but you'll find several hundred contemporary references from the time I was at Nokia.
And as the last item, like I mentioned with that screen shot, the first ever official Nokia DVD, was about the 3G future that Nokia was imagining and trying to promote. It was released in November 2000 and distributed broadly to operators/carrier senior staff, media, investors and partners. The DVD is entitled One Day. It featured four Nokia executives interviewed in this sequence: Matt Wisk, Vice President Marketing, Tomi Ahonen Head of 3G Business Consulting (see picture in above), Tapio Hedman Vice President Communications, and Niklas Savander Vice President & General Manager, Mobile Internet Applications. Is it possible - possible - that Nokia has so totally messed up its first DVD that it gave me the wrong title, or is it most likely, that if that is what the screen says on the DVD, it was also what was my real title.
When Digitoday asked Nokia to comment on the article that interviewed me, and Nokia's response is nothing on the content what I talked about, but rather to stoop to giving blatantly false witness on my actual title, seemingly attempting to diminsh my role and color my job as a 'just a marketing guy' of no real relevance, I think that is a strike below the belt. I would appreciate it, if Nokia was man enough now, with Elop no longer in charge, and correct its clear mistake - or show me one bit of proof form the public domain, that I was ever represented by Nokia as being a Marketing Manager...