Thorsten Heins wins the Cantech Letter TSX Executive of the Year award

Thorsten Heins
By Chris Umiastowski on 16 Jan 2013 11:17 am EST

Each year, Cantech Lettter founder Nick Waddell holds an awards ceremony to recognize the top executive in the Canadian technology sector.  The winner of the award is established by a voting process.  Equity analysts on the voting panel each get a vote, and readers of Cantech Letter get one collective vote.  

The analysts who vote on this award come from a variety of smaller dealers including Byron Capital Markets, Cormark Securities, Industrial Alliance Securities, M Partners and Cantor Fitzgerald (who's Canadian presence comes from the acquisition of Versant Partners).

This year, the winner was none other than Thorsten Heins.  

What does it mean for Thorsten to win?  Well, let's put things in their proper perspective.  The analysts voting on this award certainly aren't motivated financially.  RIM is not about to go raise money and play favourites by doing a brokered deal with a bunch of small Canadian firms.  So these votes are genuine.

It tells me that Canadian investors are warming up to the new RIM.  They like the changes they see.  They're under no illusion that RIM's problems are over, but it's pretty clear that Thorsten is navigating the RIM ship better than anyone expected.  

Cormark's Richard Tse says RIM's platform transition remains an uphill battle, but RIM's "surprising operational progress" has given it wiggle room between BlackBerry 7 and BlackBerry 10 that many critics didn't think the company could spare.  I think he's right.  Analysts were very worried that RIM would lose its subscriber base in this transition.  That hasn't happened.  

Byron Capital's Tom Astle offered up this metaphor:  "He still has a massive job in front of him, but already the big ship is starting to right itself under his navigation."  Well said.  

On behalf of CrackBerry Nation, our congrats go out to Thorsten Heins.

Reader comments

Thorsten Heins wins the Cantech Letter TSX Executive of the Year award


Excellent work Thor!!! Your inspiration not only inspires those within RIM, but others looking in. I look forward not only to BB10, but all your aspirations of the future mobile computing world. Way to put the Research back into RIM!!!

Congratulations King Thor! Very well deserved. This will also serve to attract serious notice of the very customers RIM is trying to draw to BB10

Yea! It is nice to see this! That others are recognizing Thorsten Heins leadership :)
I must admit that when they announced that he would be taking over as CEO I was a bit worried, but that is only because I new nothing about him or his history. But after reading a bit about him my worry diminished slightly. After he made that call to Kevin I was happy. Then a lot after that was awesome. He has been so good for the company and even though that they still have a loooong way to go it is apparent that they are moving in the right direction :)

It's good to be recognized for hard work. It was a very smart idea to delay the launch of the new OS. As much as he deserves the award, let us not forget it was the two former co-CEOs who put RIM on the path to BB10 and QNX.

Definitely agreed here. If not that silly Balsillie, the brilliant Lazaridis cannot be forgotten.

Congrats Thor - very well deserved.

Thorsten is the model for the new rockstar CEOs. Getting things done, but thinking about them first.

He should have won it the moment they learnt that his name is shortened as THOR.

I just cant wait for the moment on Jan 30 when he is on stage and shows BlackBerry 10 to the world

I think it is safe to say at this point that Thorsten Heins has done a tremendous job changing the optics around the company. Whether or not RIM is ultimately successful in its turnaround will depend on how the public warms to BB10 (and that, in turn, will depend to some degree on how well it is marketed, which means Heins' report card is still incomplete), but you can sense that the feeling that vultures were swirling overhead and were any minute to descend and begin their feeding on what was left of RIM has subsided for now, and that there is a new optimism around the company. And Thorsten deserves most of the credit for that.

Congratulations to him, and to RIM.

Yes SIR! Congratulations to Mr. Heins... We knew he could do it, he's showing he could do it and soon everyone will see he's doing it!

Mike and Jim brought the company to certain level and now Thor is going to knock it out of the park!


Congrats! Thor ROCKS!


in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

I have much respect for Thor.....he stepped into a bad situation, has endured the beatings from the consumers, news reporters, tech blogs, down right liars etc.......yet he shows up and continues to show leadership, a positive attitude, and deliver on better than expected results. There is life in RIM. Congradulation Thor.

Thinking that BlackBerry 10 may be like a sledge hammer in the mobile scene, I will be very happy to carry a smartphone that we can refer to as Mjölner, The Hammer of Thor. Rock on Thor!

Mjölner's characteristics according to Norse Mythology, " would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic."

Sound like #BB10 to you??

(taken from wikipedia)

It is easy to forget the groundwork for the transition was done with great vision by Jim and Mike. I don't wish to take anything away from Herr Heins but, I'm not so sure the progress to date would have been significantly different under the previous regime. Being Canadians through and through, Jim and Mike did not toot their own horns. For those of us who carefully watched the strategic acquisitions they made, we can now see just how prescient they were.

My thoughts exactly.

Not taking ANYTHING away from THor, but I must say - the strategy did not change. The strategy laid out for him by Mike & Jim was the genius and I believe thing would have gone much similar seeing that Thor even not as CEO would have done the same grunt work but without the recognition.

However, the one thing Thor as CEO did due was strip out the arrogance, making BB more appealing to media. Good on you Thor!

The strategy did change. Mike and Jim would have delivered another half baked product, much like they did with BB6 and the PB. It was Thor who decided to delay the product launch. Can you imagine what would have happened had BB10 had actually been released last year?

I wouldn't want to think about that outcome, that's for sure. I was somewhat skeptical at first whether a change at the top would make a difference, but after seeing the progress that was made with Thorsten Heins and Frank Boulben leading the way, in addition to their presentation and style of management, I'm officially sold.

To think that the 2-headed CEO monster of Lazarillie even had a chance of remaining in power definitely seemed absurd, with the mounting resentment on the part of investors and customers rising to the surface. Regardless of whether or not they finally "got it" after making all those mistakes, the risk of keeping them in power was too great. It was time for a change; the results have been nothing short of positive, all things considered.

Much of what you say is true. Mike and Jim deserve credit for acquisitions, etc.
Had Thor not made huge corporate changes - letting people go, creating an entirely new management structure, empowering people, inspiring people, introducing accountability, bringing in a CMO and a COO,
Thor basically unleashed the creativity within RIM and focused it.
Mike and Jim must not be forgotten, but without Thor we might not have BlackBerry to talk about.
We must thank Mike and Jim for handpicking him to take over.

I agree. I think Jim and Mike deserve a big thankyou for their vision. Both for taking BlackBerry down this road and for being brave enough to recognise their own weaknesses. I have total belief and confidence in Thorston, if he had not arrived when he did, all those trolls may actually have been right. BlackBerry are presenting what looks to me like a complete product, I tried every platform and they don't touch blackberry IMO. But to have a bb without all the reboots and hourglassing, I am going to be in heaven!!! The winner here is BlackBerry and us BB users.

When he was first put into the CEO post, I was worried he was just going to become a puppet for the board. I am glad I was wrong. Congrats Thor!

Thorsten Heins is a man of great leadership, intelligence and vision.
Mr.Heins - you have my respect, my gratitude, and my affection.
In the relentless
Of perfection.

Lets face it, Thorsten Heins oozes leadership. Confidence without arrogance, focus without narrowness. There is simply no other CEO alive that took it on the chin as much as him from the press and their bevy of haters. He came through it and is now starting to show the world where mobile is going. Real vision, not the pretend stuff floating out of California.

I want RIM to be successful for a couple of reasons. First, it is a compelling story with biblical elements (the rise, the fall and the resurrection). Second, if successful, I will personally send harassing emails everyday to the Globe and Mail (a bush league Toronto newspaper that thinks it speaks for Canada) requesting that he be nominated CEO of the year. When he wins, I will request that a large bronze statue be placed outside their building to humble their clueless tech reporters and the collected halfwits that run this paper.

The Globe and Mail, CBC National, CTV National all bash RIM every chance they get and support Apple. Ie Apple apps from them and none for BB. They are nothing but empty headed puppets. Can't wait to see them bash BB10.

When you look back to how chaotic and grim things looked for RIM a year ago, and look at where they are now, it's clear that the company has had extraordinary leadership.

Let's put aside the quality and marketability of BB10 for a minute; it's not available yet, so it's not fair to evaluate it as a product. It seemed to be common sense a year ago that RIM wouldn't even SURVIVE long enough to introduce new product; subscribers would fall off, service revenue would dry up, new sales would disappear.

Under Heins' leadership, RIM has been able to take control of its costs, prioritize its spending on things that really mattered (like making sure BB10 would have a decent app portfolio), and focus its attention on building the best platform it knew how to make.

Many will say it's premature to give Heins this award, but as far as I'm concerned he more than deserves it just for getting RIM to this point under these circumstances. Well deserved!!

Nice going Thor ... Congrats.

A bit of trolling in your article " uphill battle?" .... should be more like "Clear sailing with BB10 in sight" Please update ASAP.

Well deserved! He has worked hard to bring RIM to BB10 and has earned it fair and square. Congratulations Thorsten! Keep up the good work.

Congrats to Thorsten Heins for winning this award, which was borne out of all of the hard work and dedication he put into keeping RIM from going on life support. While Lazaridis/Balsillie ("Lazarillie") brought BlackBerry as far as they did, they were clearly not up to the task of continuing their tenure in the positions of power they were in. Lazaridis, in particular, should be grateful for the job Heins has done in restoring the company he founded back into prominence, and paving the way for a bright future ahead.