[10 Questions] Meet Ajey Mehta, VP and Country Head – India, HMD Global

Today, we caught up with Ajey Mehta, the man given the coveted task of rekindling the Nokia phones growth story in India.

[10 Questions] Meet Ajey Mehta, VP and Country Head – India, HMD Global

dipankar paul dipankar paul
Staff member  /  edited January 4

Today, we caught up with Ajey Mehta, the man given the coveted task of rekindling the Nokia phones growth story in India. What better leader than someone who has been associated with the Nokia brand for over 14 years!

Here are excerpts from our interview…

Hello Ajey, tell us, in nutshell, who are you?

I am Ajey Mehta, VP and Country Head for HMD Global. My role, currently, is to bring back Brand Nokia in the consumer devices category.

What’s your Nokia story?

It’s a very energizing and exciting story. What has kept me endeared with Nokia is the values that the brand stands for – the values of honesty, transparency, humility, reliability, and authenticity. It is on the back of these values that I have ridden the ups and downs Nokia has faced – and I’ve enjoyed every moment if it.


How have you approached change – from Nokia to Microsoft to HMD Global?

I’ve always approached change with an extremely positive mindset. I look at change as an opportunity and that’s how it has always emerged.

When we moved from Nokia to Microsoft, we were excited with this coming together of two iconic brands. Of course, things panned out differently. But when we spun off with HMD Global on December 1, 2016, I saw a massive opportunity there to rekindle the brand in an operating system of our choice – which was Android.

I approach change with a calm mind. And I leave myself open to learning new skills and picking up new abilities. Learning agility, resilience, calmness, and focus – I think these are some of the qualities that have helped me turn change into opportunity.   

Tell us what the journey has been like to get to where you are today…

It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks to my journey I have crisscrossed four continents and lived in three. It’s been very energizing for me and it has given me a truly global exposure and experience. When I look back, life has been so exciting that I can’t wait for the next disruption and change to come.  

How do you see HMD Global and Nokia Mobile growing as a consumer brand?

There is a massive opportunity for HMD Global to grow with Nokia Mobile in the coming years.

More than 70 per cent of our mobiles sold so far have been bought by millennials. This is quite contrary to what people expected; they said Nokia was a brand with a lot of legacy and would appeal only to the older demographic, but that hasn’t been the case at all.

Our start in India has been extremely encouraging. Of course, we’ve only taken baby steps; there’s a long way to go. But I see a lot of optimism around the Nokia brand.

One quality that I place a lot of importance on, and what I’ve learned from the Finns, is ‘sisu’. It’s a Finnish word which embodies perseverance, staying focused in the face of adversity, and not giving up. And that is exactly what the Nokia brand is about and that is exactly what our team at HMD Global is about. We’re not going to give up and we are not going to relax till we have taken Nokia where it deserves to be – at the very top.

 

“Learning agility, resilience, calmness, focus… these are some of the qualities that have helped me turn change into opportunity.”
- Ajey Mehta, VP and Country Head – India, HMD Global
Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Ajey Mehta when he’s not at work?

I am a very family-oriented person. On the weekends I would love to spend time with my wife, kids and the dog at home. I enjoy travelling; once or twice a year we go off on these family holidays. When the family is not around, which happens a lot since I’m constantly travelling for work, I enjoy reading. I like reading books on history, economics, and business journals. And I absolutely love music. I like all genres of music, but I’m partial to 70s, 80s and 90s rock.  

Which book are you reading right now?

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. I’m trying very hard to find time in my schedule to finish the book, but I’m enjoying every minute of reading it.

Name three people – past or present – who have inspired you.

It’s difficult to name just three because multiple people have inspired me at various points in my life. I think my father has played a big role in my life and inspired me in a lot of the things that I do today.

Among the more modern leaders, I think Satya [Nadella, CEO, Microsoft] had had quite a positive impact on me in terms of his leadership style, his approach to leadership and how contrasting his style was from his predecessor’s.  And the way he moved the whole organization through that transition, was quite an experience for me.

The other, well, not a person, but a race that has really influenced a lot of what I am today are the Finns, the people of Finland. Their quiet confidence, perseverance, and no-nonsense approach have hugely influenced me and have dictated the way I behave and how I am today. In the last 14 years with the Nokia, that has been one of the real takeaways in the way I operate as a manager and as an individual. I’ve learned a lot from the Finnish culture. 


When it’s all done and dusted, how would you want to be remembered?

As the man who brought Nokia back, and who took it to the glory it deserves.

Tell us something we don’t already know. 

I don’t know if everybody knows this, but Nokia has existed for more than 150 years. It was close to bankruptcy a few times over the years, but always came back stronger than it was before. So, Nokia has a history of being a comeback kid and we’re replicating that today.

Finally, any message for our Fans?

Thank you for your support. We are privileged to have you as our Fans. I look forward to engaging with you all and learning more about emerging technologies. I'm sure we'll have a long and fruitful association. Stay tuned for exciting times!

Thanks, Ajey for a great chat!

Fans, whom would you want to meet next? Tell us in the comments!

Comments

  • petrus petrus
    ✭✭✭✭  / 

    Wau, very interesting information for me 😊 We thank you.  :)


  • navs navs
    ✭✭✭  / 
    Nokia connected India (man I know those days when everyone just had Nokia). When I was a kid people used Pager and sometimes trunk calls which was costly then. Ours was the first family in the city to buy a phone then. It was a Nokia 5110. Then we had 3310 in the house and later 1100. Sometime later I first used 1110 and 2610 (the first color display mobile I saw). We then had a 2220 slide phone (first mobile camera I used) for sometime and oh the first touch screen 5800 Xpressmusic. Lumia 520 and 1020 (beast 41mp) were the two Windows phone. After a huge break ....... back to Nokia with 6.1 plus.... 
    Now hearing the story from the other side (Ajey Mehta) of the 14 years. I think this Iconic brand was a part of all Indian families then and now it's legend still continues through the roots of HMD now... :wink:
    Thank you!
  • It's very interesting about Nokia, because once upon a time before i bought Nokia 8 I am also a big fan. But once I bought it not only me many of them faced the same issue that one side of the display is going blank. Yeah I faced the same problem by 11 month from buying date. So probably I am under warranty then they replaced it. Again after 14 months again I am facing the same issue now they were telling your mobile ist not under warranty, which means the Nokia company will give warranty as only one month for replaced product. Very very poor in service. I am very sure you people's going to lose everything by your service.
  • wyk wyk
    ✭✭✭✭  /  edited December 2018
    At last someone talked about journey to Nokia to Microsoft 😆 thanks for the question @dipankar paul
    But my personal opinion is HMD is releasing too many devices to confuse the market. 
  • wyk wyk
    ✭✭✭✭  / 
    And The CEO the mastermind to kill the brand Lumia & Windows phone division. 😆
  • wyk wyk
    ✭✭✭✭  / 
    @madbilly we shouldn't forget The true legend Rajeev Suri... The man witnessed every ups and downs of Nokia. 
  • nokianchetan nokianchetan
    ✭✭✭  /  edited December 2018
    It's Always Nice To Hear Or  Read Interviews of Ajey Sir 🙂
  • It is very nice interview @Ajey Mehta. Thank you to post @dipankar paul .
    My takeaway/ part I like so I have noted that as follows: 

    “Learning agility, resilience, calmness, focus… these are some of the qualities that have helped me turn change into opportunity.”
    - Ajey Mehta, VP and Country Head – India, HMD Global

    One quality that I place a lot of importance on, and what I’ve learned from the Finns, is ‘sisu’. It’s a Finnish word which embodies perseverance, staying focused in the face of adversity, and not giving up.

    The other, well, not a person, but a race that has really influenced a lot of what I am today are the Finns, the people of Finland. Their quiet confidence, perseverance, and no-nonsense approach have hugely influenced me.....

     It was close to bankruptcy a few times over the years, but always came back stronger than it was before. So, Nokia has a history of being a comeback kid and we’re replicating that today.

    From these parts I inspired to implement those value in my life. 

    From rise and fall of Nokia or Microsoft I re-noted or learn by example for Indian Trimurti concept.

    The Trimurti concept with (little edit) from Wikipedia:
    The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation,maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator,Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer (of evil spirit) or transformer. 

    Global leader or no.1 is tough to maintain the status is one of toughest job.
    After reaching on top of the world two things happens:
    1) The global topper take care with acquiring ego of to be a no. 1 continues same quality of work, which is toughest job. In other wards, the evil spirit of I know everything and I control the world this thinking either suppress by global topper itself or else 2) it get suppressed by cosmic component Shiva, the destroyer of evil spirit and transforming the universe in positive direction.
    So the result of this it becomes beginning of the new thing so in this way creation, maintenance and destruction cycle continues. 

    Whether it is Finland or India or any country the values are the same, the difference is in expressing them. It is important to respect values and even more important to implement them in practice. I hope, Nokia will able to implement their core values and stay connecting people.           
  • Nestor Xu - VP Greater China!!!
  • It's very nice to meet you, Ajey! It's good to know the team behind our great devices, and it would be really nice to see such interviews made with Juho and Florian ;)
  • madbilly madbilly
    ✭✭✭✭  / 
    wyk said:
    @madbilly we shouldn't forget The true legend Rajeev Suri... The man witnessed every ups and downs of Nokia. 
    Rajeev Suri works for Nokia itself, not HMD Global. I'm sure that we'll only see staff of HMD Global on this community forum.
  • matteo.m matteo.m
    Staff member  / 
    madbilly said:
    Hi Ajey, great to hear from you! Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    @dipankar paul , I think it would be great to hear from @juho , Florian Seiche, Pekka Rantala.... basically anyone from this page: https://www.hmdglobal.com/about/

    And anyone else who works at HMD! Really, I think we would like to meet you all :)

    Let's try and make it happen
  • Dipankar Paul for sharing interview of Mr. Ajey Mehta with us!  :)
    His persistence and efforts in rebuilding the nokia brand in India is truly remarkable.
    I like his NOT GIVE UP attitude and hope he will continue to inspire next generation leaders and businessmen to bring about transformation change in their work. B)
  • مقابله ممتعه استاد جوحا. 
  • JituD JituD
     / 
    Thank you so much for your words and We are looking forward to see this brand as a king of smartphones in future. 
  • Ajay ji,
    says you will bring Nokia back, I'm sorry. I'm not feeling good at saying this, your service is zero in India, I have been walking around the Nokia Care for 4 months. I have not received any service till date. If you have to return, please do your After Sale service Improve . And if possible, give my Nokia 6 phone service. vinod tanwar
    [email protected]
  • madbilly madbilly
    ✭✭✭✭  / 
    matteo.m said:
    madbilly said:
    Hi Ajey, great to hear from you! Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    @dipankar paul , I think it would be great to hear from @juho , Florian Seiche, Pekka Rantala.... basically anyone from this page: https://www.hmdglobal.com/about/

    And anyone else who works at HMD! Really, I think we would like to meet you all :)

    Let's try and make it happen
    When will we see more of these interviews?
    Cheers :smiley:
  • andycool2025 andycool2025
    ✭✭  / 
    Nice interview, NOKIA-MICROSOFT-NOKIA (HMD GLOBLE) King is back.
  • SAIFK SAIFK
     / 
    nokia best ever.. and keep trying..
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