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HELSINKI,  Finland – Today is Stephen Elop’s first day as President and CEO of Nokia. Last week he surprised us all by unexpectedly  walking on stage at Nokia World to deliver the closing remarks and put his marker in the sand when it comes to Nokia’s developer community, highlighting their importance and congratulating their efforts. His sentiment was timely and spot on.

Stephen’s first job when he jumped on board this morning was to send a note to every Nokia employee. Instantly saying he’s here, and he’s listening. And it didn’t take him long to prove it, either. When the communications team got in touch, he responded within the hour. He’s here, he’s on it and he’s very much engaged.

Nokia is going through a major transition right now. Some say it can’t be done, but as EVP of Services Tero Ojanperä pointed out recently, the last transition was from rubber boots to mobile phones. This transition is seeing Nokia shift from a hardware business to a software and services business. The shift has started and is already gathering pace, be it through the Ovi store’s rising success, Nokia money or the gargantuan potential of Ovi maps.

Stephen’s arrival is timely and in my view and the view of many, he is very much the man for the job. He gets it, that much is clear from hearing him speak last week. Making a successful transition is going to require a stern hand and a clear vision of where Nokia is going and how it’s going to get there.

Like many Finns, Elop is a big hockey fan. Hockey ace Wayne Gretzky had a line from his father which gave him the edge in his game and which kinda sums up where Nokia is going with Stephen Elop – “Skate to where the puck is going”. Makes sense, no?