Profile: Insider is surprise pick as new RIM CEO

Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:35pm EST
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By Maria Sheahan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Insider Thorsten Heins, the new chief executive at BlackBerry maker RIM, is a surprise choice for those looking for a "transformational" leader from outside to turn around the Canadian group's fortunes.

Tall, soft-spoken and bespectacled, the Gifhorn-born Heins, 54, spent most of his working life at German engineering giant Siemens, where he oversaw a mobile telephone business which faced fierce pricing pressure and quality issues.

An avid fan of NBA basketball team the Miami Heat after having lived in Florida for four years, Heins rides a BMW motorbike when he is not road cycling or embarking on long-distance charity rides.

"We will take this to new heights," said Heins after taking over at Research in Motion from co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, who finally bowed to investor pressure and resigned. "Innovation is endless, we will have a lot of fun."

Heins spent more than 20 years at Siemens, having joined straight from university in 1984 where he met his wife Petra, a mathematician and physicist. The couple have a 21-year-old son and a 23-year-old daughter.

Heins' German roots were evident when he was asked about his choice of motorcycle. "Of course it's a BMW, I'm German."

By the mid-2000s, he had worked his way up to the helm of Siemens's mobile phone business, so he was no stranger to mobiles when he joined RIM.

The business was sold to Taiwan's BenQ in 2005, after Heins was promoted to the management board of the new Communications business, which was dismantled a year later.   Continued...