Nokia names former Ericsson exec as new CTO

At Ericsson Nishant Batra was most recently head of Product Area Networks. (Nokia)

Nokia on Thursday named Nishant Batra as the Finnish telecom equipment vendor’s new technology and strategy chief.

Batra is leaving his role as CTO and EVP at automotive technology company Veoneer in Sweden. Before Veoneer, Batra spent more than a decade at Nokia rival Ericsson. He held a variety of roles during his 12 years at the Swedish telecom supplier, including most recently as head of Product Area Networks. Early in his career Batra worked as a senior consultant to Verizon.

While at Veoneer for the past two years Batra also served as an advisor to Texas-based software vendor Mavenir.

Nokia called out his extensive experience in complex systems using cutting-edge silicon technology, both embedded and cloud-based software.

As Nokia’s new Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Batra will eventually move to the U.S., after initially working based from Espoo, Finland.  

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The announcement follows an update Wednesday by Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark, who took the reins in August, on his organizational overhaul. That includes condensing the corporate leadership team from 17 people to 11 and moving away from an end-to-end strategy in favor of four focused business groups starting in January, as Nokia works to capture opportunities for growth.

In a statement Thursday, Lundmark welcomed Batra at what he called “a pivotal time” for Nokia.

Nishant Batra Nokia
                 Nishant Batra

"He is a proven leader bringing with him a wealth of experience from technology to telecoms, as well as deep knowledge of our core CSP customers, the enterprise sector, and the emerging trends in the global market,” stated Lundmark of Batra’s hiring. “His track record of developing innovative new products and successfully taking them to market make him a fantastic addition to our team.”

In Q3 Nokia lost share at one large North American customer, thought to be Verizon, though Lundmark yesterday stressed that the carrier will continue to be among its top three customers.

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Batra’s appointment puts another piece of the executive team in place, as Lundmark had not named a leader for Nokia’s new corporate Strategy and Technology function when restructuring changes were announced this fall.

Marcus Weldon last month confirmed he would be stepping down as Nokia’s corporate CTO and president of Bell Labs after a 25-year tenure at the company. That followed exit announcements from Chief Marketing Officer Barry French and President of Global Services & Nokia Operations Sanjay Goel.

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In a prepared statement, Batra said his personal ambition “will be to ensure that Nokia is strategically positioned to win and that Nokia Bell Labs continues to be seen as the pinnacle of innovation.”

“The telecommunications industry is an exciting place to be at the moment with 5G now really taking off, and Nokia is right at the heart of it,” Batra stated. “The company has the true potential to work with diverse customer groups in the market and I see that we can make a significant impact over the long term.”