by Al Sacco

10 Things to Know About RIM’s New CEO, Thorsten Heins

Jan 23, 20124 mins
IT LeadershipIT StrategyMobile

RIM has named its former COO and SVP, Thorsten Heins, as its new president and chief executive officer.'s BlackBerry watcher Al Sacco shares 10 interesting facts about the new BlackBerry CEO.

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. (In fact, I wrote a piece earlier this month explaining why a major leadership change was in order at RIM.)

RIM's New President and CEO Thorsten Heins
RIM’s New President and CEO Thorsten Heins

Check out the following list for 10 interesting tidbits on Mr. Heins, his past and his plans for RIM and BlackBerry in the coming months 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’,” he said with laugh in a conference call this morning.

In addition to his role at RIM, Heins is also a Board Member of the German Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Toronto, according to

2) Heins has been with RIM since December 2007, serving as a SVP of the company’s handheld business unit and then as one of RIMs two chief operating officers. He played key roles in the creation of RIMs product portfolio. Before working for RIM, Heins was employed by Siemens, starting in 1984 just after his graduation from the University of Hannover in Germany, where he earned a master’s degree in science and physics.

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

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

However, he does believe that the upcoming BlackBerry 10 handheld OS, which is expected to be released along with at least one new device in late 2012, will become an attractive option for hardware makers looking to license software.

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

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 be bringing on a new marketing chief in the very near future to help with this effort. (RIM’s former CMO Keith Pardy threw in the reigns last year.)

“We need to be closer to our consumer user base. We’re well positioned with CIOs…but in the US, we need to do a better job there [targeting consumers],” 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 a major 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 also be to listen, not just to communicate one way, Heins said.

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

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

7) In fiscal year 2011, Heins cleared about $2 million in salary–$1,922,642, to be exact–according to, though you can bet he will receive a healthy pay raise along with his CEO promotion. (RIM hasn’t offered any specific details on compensation.)

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

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

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


Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at