Former Nokia boss takes CEO job at Inmarsat

Rajeev Suri, the former CEO of Nokia, will take on the role of CEO of Inmarsat effective March 1. He will replace Rupert Pearce, who steps down as CEO on February 28.

It was almost one year ago when Nokia announced Suri’s departure. He had a long career at Nokia, starting in 1995, and spent six years in the role of CEO. He became the CEO with the sale of Nokia’s phone division to Microsoft Mobile, replacing Stephen Elop.

Suri oversaw Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in 2016 and led the company into a top position in terms of telecom infrastructure. But the company struggled to find a successful 5G strategy and the stock tanked in 2019. Pekka Lundmark, an energy company executive, assumed the CEO role in August 2020.

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As Inmarsat’s CEO, Suri will be based in the U.K. He will also become a director of Connect Bidco Limited, the holding company for Inmarsat.

“I am very excited to join Inmarsat, and to work closely with such skilled people, at such an important moment for the company and the satellite communications industry as a whole,” Suri said in a statement. “I have been very impressed by the capabilities and ambitions of the company and its partner community and wish to pay tribute to their ethos, drive and ingenuity. Together, they have established technology leadership in satellite mobility, underpinned by a unique understanding of the customer.”

Inmarsat did not give a reason for Pearce’s departure. Inmarsat Chairman Andrew Sukawaty said Pearce has been an “excellent and forward thinking leader” and thanked him for his contributions over the years. Pearce will provide advisory services to Suri for a transitional period.

In January, Inmarsat marked the fifth anniversary of its Global Xpress (GX) network entering service worldwide, serving maritime and aviation markets that were especially hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Looking past the pandemic, Inmarsat last fall announced a strategic collaboration with Hughes Network Systems to integrate their systems for services focused on North America. The service will enable airlines to offer free, in-flight Wi-Fi to passengers. Pearce told Aviation Today last year that the company intends to be a fully global player, which requires a North American strategy given it plays such a big part in the global aviation market.

Commercial availability of the GX+ North America service is expected in 2021.