BlackBerry not just about handsets, says chairwoman

If Barbara Stymiest, chairwoman of BlackBerry Ltd., could tell people one thing,  it would be that BlackBerry is not just a handset maker – it’s also about the full user experience, she says.

“That’s a misconception,” she said, speaking to young professionals during a fundraising event in Toronto. While Stymiest didn’t go into specifics about BlackBerry’s financial straits or any particulars of its game plan,, she said BlackBerry is looking towards being more focused on end-to-end software in the future. She pointed to Ottawa-based QNX, acquired by BlackBerry in 2011, as a good example of the technology trend around the “Internet of everything” and software that BlackBerry may lean towards in the future.

On Friday, Stymiest chatted with young professionals at Breakfast of Champions, an event supporting Sick Kids Hospital. The event went on to raise more than $40,000 for the hospital’s Endocrinology Fellowship Fund.

“Right now, we’re looking at the Internet of everything,” Stymiest said, adding in the past 20 years, the Internet was just a place to communicate. But machine-to-machine technology is on the rise, and as QNX’s system can be used in cars, trains, planes, healthcare, and all kinds of industries, BlackBerry will be increasingly focused on that space.

BlackBerry’s new CEO, John Chen, also has a strong background in software. Replacing Thorsten Heins, he was officially named interim CEO on Nov. 4. The hope is Chen will be able to reverse the troubled smartphone maker’s fortunes.

Stymiest also had some advice for young professionals who are just starting out in their career. Good leaders, she said, will always start any presentation or speech with a word of gratitude for the people they work with. Whether they’re subordinates, partners, or just people who contributed to their work, someone who isn’t just cut-throat and out for themselves will thank others – and that will go a long way, she said.

Also on hand at the charity breakfast were a range of notable people in business, like Facebook Canada’s Steve Irvine,  Stephen Brooks of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Rob Prichard of the Bank of Montreal. Kirstine Stewart, managing director of Twitter Canada, also gave a short talk during the breakfast.

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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