HMD Global taps former Nokia executives to lead the brand’s re-entry in Africa

The Nokia mobile phone brand is back. The once-popular mobile devices brand, currently being manufactured by Finland-based HMD Global, made its re-entry during this year’s Mobile World Congress in February and has since then been on a global drive seeking people to join its team to help in the re-introduction of the brand to the market.

In Kenya, and Africa by extension, HMD has decided to seek and pick out those with a long association with Nokia to lead its marketing and sales efforts.

(TOP: King’ori Gitahi, former Microsoft Operative Product & Device Manager – R – and Microsoft  Senior Business Manager East and Southern Africa, Gopher Ogembo, confer during the launch of Lumia 950, Lumia 950XL , Lumia 650 and 550 in Nairobi in March 15, 2016. Mr Ogembo is currently HMD Global’s Senior Business Manager in charge of East Africa).

In December last year, HMD appointed Gopher Ogembo as its Senior Business Manager in charge of East Africa. Mr Ogembo joined Nokia in late as Sales Manager for Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somali and stayed loyal to the brand, rising to become Senior Business Manager for East and Southern Africa in 2014 after the brand’s acquisition by Microsoft and renamed ‘Microsoft Mobile Devices’. Ogembo held this position till November last year when he joined HMD Global as part of its Africa team.

Then there’s Joseph Umunakwe, HMD Global’s GM for West, East and Central Africa (WECA) who joined Nokia some months after Ogembo in May 2008 as the Head of Finance and Control for West and Central Africa. Umunakwe also stayed with Nokia till last year and had risen to the position of GM for Microsoft Mobile Devices  for West, East and Central Africa when he was tapped by HMD to assume his current role.

After Umunakwe, we have Michelle Wynne, the Head of Marketing for Sub-Sahara Africa at HMD Global. Compared to her previous two colleagues, she is relatively new at Nokia having joined in mid 2011 as the Regional Marketing Activations Manager & Acting Head of Marketing for West Africa. From there, she served in other roles till becoming the Senior Partner, Channel Marketing Manager for Sub Sahara Africa at Microsoft Mobile Devices. Based in South Africa, Michelle was then picked by HMD Global in February this year  to assume her current role of pushing Nokia’s marketing efforts in sub-Saharan Africa.

Last but not least – as he is the overall Nokia boss in the region – is Justin Maier the HMD Global’s VP for sub-Sahara Africa. Justin joined Nokia about 3 months after Michelle in August 2011 as the Head of Marketing Activation for Middle East & Africa. He then rose up the corporate ladder and had by late 2015 become the Head of Microsoft Mobile Devices for Sub-Sahara Africa. It is after serving in this role for almost one-and-a-half years that he moved to HMD Global in February this year.

Just like the team leading its operations in Africa, HMD Global was founded by former Nokia staff. Registered and headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, HMD is owned by Smart Connect LP, a private equity fund managed by Jean-Francois Baril, a former Nokia executive, as well as by HMD management. The Board of HMD consists of 5 members, including one representative from Nokia.

After acquiring the Nokia brand in May last year, the firm noted in a statement thus: “HMD will be run by a group of experienced industry leaders, including CEO-designate Arto Nummela, who previously held senior roles at Nokia and is currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business, and president-designate Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.”

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