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LONDON, England – Nokia’s executive vice president in charge of Smart Devices, Jo Harlow, has just been named as one of 2011’s most influential Women in Wireless. Women who made this list were selected for their accomplishments, impact and leadership within the industry. We talked to Jo to learn more about her aims and beliefs.

Nokia Conversations: You’ve just been named as one of 2011’s most influential Women in Wireless. How did that make you feel?

Jo Harlow: Excited! The Editors at Fierce Wireless selected women based on their influence and impact within the US, which means a lot to me right now. Our strategy to succeed in the US is extremely important to Nokia, so it gave me great hope for our future.

NC: Who inspires you within the Technology/Wireless industry?

JH: There isn’t a single person who has inspired me personally. What really inspires me is everyday people who do things with technology that causes the industry to evolve and transform. Also developers, who are really changing lives and shaping how people behave with technology.

NC: Who has been a key role model to you in your career?

JH: I’ve been extremely lucky in that I’ve had a sponsor throughout my career. This is someone who has invested time in me, someone who I could always go to for advice or get feedback and direction from. I’ve found it really valuable to have someone who, out of choice, decided to invest in my future and be there for me as a role model.

NC: Looking back over the last 12 months, what accomplishments are you personally most proud of?

JH: There are a number of things I’m proud of and not necessarily just things I’ve achieved, but what Nokia and its staff have achieved together.

I’m very proud of the relationship Nokia has established with Microsoft. We have genuine respect for each other and the relationship is very natural. Nokia and Microsoft have embraced the challenges ahead together and are striving forward in a proactive way, with a shared passion for our collective goals. I’m certain, once the first Nokia with Windows Phone comes out, I’ll feel very proud.

The other thing I’m proud of is the Symbian and MeeGo side of our business. Through a lot of turmoil and changes, the staff has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their work. So I feel proud to be associated with them.

NC: We’re sure you have faced a number of challenges throughout your career as a female. Any pearls of wisdom that you would be willing to share with us?

JH: Yes, I’ve faced numerous challenges working in an engineering-led industry. For me, I feel it is essential that you learn how to articulate yourself clearly and influence people to achieve defined goals. You also need to understand your own personal motivators, to ensure you can take control of your own career path and not have your future decided by the aims of others.

NC: How do you define great leadership?

JH: Having a vision and being able to communicate it. Being able to listen and understand what’s really important and what matters. You also need to be a decision-maker and stand by your decisions firmly. Communication is so key – communicate, communicate, communicate!

NC: How has Nokia helped you develop your leadership skills?

JH: Nokia has given me the opportunity to do so many things in my career. On many occasions, I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone, which strengthened my capabilities and knowledge along the way. My move from Marketing to Product Management is a great example: I went from being the subject matter expert to not being one at all, and have had to quickly develop. Being able to listen but also challenge and question people are great skills to have.

NC: We know you have a degree in Psychology, so what behavioural competencies do you think Nokia should be targeting in future recruits?

JH: I believe we need to look for people who have exhibited success in their career. It’s essential we find people who are conscious of why they were successful and the awareness of what makes a company successful. We’re really looking for people who can contribute and help Nokia reach our goals.

NC: Can women at Nokia have a balanced career and personal/family life?

JH: Of course: I do in my role. You need to be able to define your own boundaries and understand what you want out of life and your career. I don’t believe having it all truly exists, but everyone is unique and can definitely control their own career and personal life balance at Nokia.

NC: What does Nokia mean to you?

JH: I think Nokia is the most exciting place to be in the world right now. We created an industry that has now caught up and even moved ahead of us in many ways. But we now have a clear strategy in place that will allow us to move ahead and which I personally find extremely energising. You really have to want to be in this: it’s not about our past anymore; we are creating our future.

NC: Last question! We heard you captained the Duke women’s basketball team, have you brought anything from that into your career?

JH: Yes, definitely. I learned how to be independent and how to lead others to start with. Competitive sports teach you a great deal about competitive behaviour, how to challenge and motivate yourself and others, as well as building on your social skills, which are vital in most careers.

Thanks to Jo for taking time out to talk to us!