Visionaries

2006
 Jim Balsillie

Research in Motion, the company that gave the word BlackBerry new meaning beyond just a summer fruit, emerged from the vision and diligence of a young, Turkish-born electrical engineer named Mike Lazardis.

Mike Lazardis’s interest in technology first developed during high school. He went to the University of Waterloo to pursue an electrical engineering degree, but quit in 1984 when General Motors of Canada Ltd. awarded him an industrial automation contract – even though he didn’t even have a company! That year, Mike formed Research in Motion Limited (RIM), and since then has earned more than 30 patents and dozens of industry awards for his innovations in wireless radio technology and software.

Respected as a visionary, innovator, and engineer of extraordinary talent, Mike is responsible for RIM’s product strategy, R&D, product development, and manufacturing. Outside of RIM, Mike established the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in 2000, which has quickly become a leading centre for fundamental research and attracted the attention of the world’s scientific community. In recognition of his leadership and innovation, Mike was named Canada’s Nation Builder of the Year for 2002 by readers of The Globe and Mail.

Business partner Jim Balsillie joined RIM in 1992, and is responsible for directing RIM’s strategy, business development and finance. Balsillie has profitably grown sales by 10,000 percent in the past six years, with over 95 percent of sales to export markets. Before joining RIM, Jim was executive vice-president and member of the board of engineering/construction company Sutherland-Shultz Ltd. of Kitchener, Ont., and senior associate, Strategy Consulting Group and Senior Accountant, Entrepreneurial Services Group at Ernst & Young in Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Toronto, an MBA from Harvard School of Business, and a Doctorate Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. He is a Fellow of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants. In 2002, Jim founded The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a world-class global research institute focused on the restructuring of international governance, with particular emphasis on financial and economic institutions.

Just how ubiquituous has the BlackBerry mobile communications device become? The company’s most recent subscriber data indicates a staggering 24% increase in subscribers in just one financial quarter to over 2.5 million subscribers! With offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, Research In Motion today designs, manufactures and markets innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market, as well as enabling a broad array of third-party developers and manufacturers to enhance their products and services with wireless connectivity to data.

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