Factbox: Little known insider at RIM's helm

Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:26am EST

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(Reuters) - Thorsten Heins, named as the next chief executive of Canada's Research in Motion, joined the company just four years ago and was one of two chief operating officers at the BlackBerry maker prior to his unexpected promotion.

"He's not a well-known quantity," said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. "I think there's going to be a learning period."

Here are some facts about Heins, based on a brief biography supplied by RIM, and an interview that was rather pointedly conducted together with the company's outgoing chief executives, as if to symbolize a smooth, prearranged handover:

* Thorsten Heins (his first name is pronounced like T and not like Th) joined RIM in December 2007 as a senior vice-president for the handheld business unit. He rose quickly, and by the end of a mid-2011 restructuring he was one of two chief operating officers, responsible for sales and for both hardware and software product engineering. "He played key roles in the creation of RIM's product portfolio," the company said.

* The 54-year-old native of Munich, Germany, was plucked from a long career at Siemens AG, the German engineering group he had joined straight from university in 1984. At Siemens, Heins worked in R&D, customer service, sales and product management positions, ending as chief technology officer.

* The baby-faced executive is 6 foot 6 inches tall and enjoys road cycling, including long-distance charity rides. He also rides a BMW motorcycle ("Of course it's BMW, I'm German" he said.) He supports NBA basketball team the Miami Heat after living in Florida for four years.

* He met his wife Petra, a mathematician and physicist, while they were students. He has a 21-year-old son and a 23-year-old daughter.

* RIM marked his ascent to the top role with a seven-minute YouTube video. "Never lose this innovation spirit," he said, still speaking with a noticeable German accent. here

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Janet Guttsman)

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