10 facts about new BlackBerry boss Thorsten Heins

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) yesterday appointed a brand new chief executive officer and president, Thorsten Heins. The move follows months of pressure from RIM shareholders and others to oust former RIM co-CEOs, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

Check out the following list for 10 interesting tidbits on Mr. Heins,his past and his plans for RIM and BlackBerry in the comingmonths and years.

1) Thorsten Heins is of German origin, and his middle name is Gerhard.

“I’m German, and I’m a big fan of the term ‘process discipline’,” hesaid with laugh in a conference call this morning.

In addition to his role at RIM, Heins is also a Board Member of theGerman Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Toronto, according toBusinessWeek.com.

2) Heins has been with RIM since December 2007, serving as a SVP of thecompany’s handheld business unit and then as one of RIM’s two chiefoperating officers. He played key roles in the creation of RIM’sproduct portfolio. Before working for RIM, Heins was employed by Siemens, starting in 1984 justafter his graduation from the University of Hannover in Germany, wherehe earned a master’s degree in science and physics.

3) Heins says he is open to licensing the BlackBerry OS, butit’s not his main concern at this point.

“I will entertain those discussions; I will assess the businessopportunity for RIM,” Heins said. “And I will make the decisiontogether with the board. It’s not my focus. “

However, he does believe that the upcoming BlackBerry 10 handheld OS, whichis expected to be released along with at least one new device in late2012, will become an attractive option for hardware makers looking tolicense software.

“I’m absolutely confident that BlackBerry 10 will prove itself,” Heinssaid

Will target consumer market
4) Heins is 54 years old, and he and his wife Petra have two children,a daughter and a son.

5) Heins is set on targeting the vast consumer audience, and he’ll bebringing on a new marketing chief in the very near future to help withthis effort. (RIM’s former CMO Keith Pardy threw in the reigns lastyear.)

“We need to be closer to our consumer user base. We’re well positionedwith CIOs…but in the US, we need to do a better job there [targetingconsumers],” Heins said. “I expect that person to take this a notch up.”

“I want us to focus more on consumers and consumer marketing. That is amajor change for us. That is an element that we need to strengthen,that we need to build,” he said.

And the new marketing leader’s role will alsobe to listen, not just to communicate one way, Heins said.

6) Heins doesn’t believe any sort of major change is in order for theBlackBerry maker, beyond a renewed focus on the consumer.

“I don’t thnk drastic change is needed, we are evolving,” Heins said.”This is not a seismic change; it is scaling the company further.”

How much he gets paid
7) In fiscal year 2011, Heins cleared about $2 million insalary–$1,922,642, to be exact–according to BusinessWeek.com, thoughyou can bet he will receive a healthy pay raise along with his CEOpromotion. (RIM hasn’t offered any specific details on compensation.)

8) Heins rides a motorcycle, but it’s not a Harley Davidson. Like agood German, Heins is all about the BMW bikes, according to theGuardian.uk.

9) Heins lived in Florida for four years, and as such, he supports NBAbasketball team the Miami Heat.

10) Everyone, including media, RIM employees, critics and BlackBerryusers alike, will soon begin calling Mr. Heins “Thor”…or at least Iwill–and you should too.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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