Mary McDowell, head of Mobile Phones, Nokia

Mary McDowell has been at Nokia, the world’s largest handset vendor, since 2004. She joined as head of the Finnish firm’s enterprise unit, responsible for the high end E-series handset portfolio and a range of mobility and security solutions targeted at corporate users. In the same year she was appointed a member of the Nokia Group Executive Board.

Most recently McDowell has been chief development officer at Nokia, a wide-ranging role that has involved responsibilities for strategic relationships, corporate strategy, business development and mobile financial services, among other areas. While it might not have given her a specific portfolio, this role has ensured McDowell’s participation in most areas of the business.

Nokia has undertaken a number of organisational reshuffles lately in a bid to rediscover a sense of direction and the most recent of those, which takes effect on July 1st 2010, sees McDowell made head of the new Mobile Phones unit. Of the divisional leadership roles created in the reorganisation, this is perhaps not the most glamorous; but neither is it the most exposed.

Responsibility for Nokia’s top tier smartphone strategy— which desperately needs an overhaul—is now shouldered by Anssi Vanjoki, head of the new Mobile Solutions unit, which comprises all of Nokia’s MeeGo and Symbian activities. There is glory to be had in this role if the company rediscovers high-end success, but there will be nowhere to hide if it doesn’t.

McDowell’s Mobile Phones division is responsible for the ongoing development of the lower-end device portfolios. It is in this area, of course, where Nokia has continued to perform well—only in the high end has the firm really lost its way. If it does not manage to get back on track then McDowell’s unit becomes even more essential, shifting handsets in large numbers and driving revenue from the scale that has become one of Nokia’s most essential assets.

Before joining Nokia MCDowell spent 17 years at HP-Compaq, including five years as general manager of the Industry Standard Servers division.

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