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BlackBerry CIO on Mobile Security, BYOD and the Modern CIO Role

Al Sacco | Oct. 11, 2012
Research In Motion (RIM) CIO Robin Bienfait is not your typical CIO.

Some CIOs or technology leaders will say, "We've never had a breach." Then you really know that they don't have the tools in place that would even see if somebody intruded into their space. Awareness and being able to do something about it [are key]. Awareness is the big one. Awareness is hard.

There is a lot of negative media attention around RIM right now. Does it get to you?

It bothers my husband. (Laughs) He comes home, and he'll say, "I got another phone call from somebody overseas." His family is from Holland. They wanted to know, is Robin okay? I say, I'm fine. I'm happy. I love what I'm doing. Even when I was at AT&T, we were going through some tough times before we got sold by Bell South. Sometimes I think you find your most talented people when times are tough, because it's those people that are dedicated to the business and the business of serving our customers who really shine. That to me is energizing. It's very hard for some people. Some people run from it. Actually, this is a time that brings out my true colors, too.

" I'm happy. I love what I'm doing...Sometimes I think you find your most talented people when times are tough, because it's those people that are dedicated to the business and the business of serving our customers who really shine& this is a time that brings out my true colors. "

Robin Bienfait

Can you talk a bit about your relationship with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins?

I like my CEO. I liked the former two CEOs (Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie) too. I like all CEOs. (Laughs) I find that most CEOs either love or hate their CIOs. The CIO either did something great today or the CIO spent too much money. There's no middle ground for the poor CIO. They've done something really great, or the CEO is mad at them because they locked him down or didn't let him do so and so. There's a nice tension between the CIO and CEO.

The thing I like about Thorsten, specifically, is that we worked a little bit together in the past, when he was at Siemens and I was AT&T, he was selling optical networks to me. I have a real respect for his capabilities. He's done a very nice job of focusing our business on the right priorities for us. Not letting us get distracted by trying to be everything to everyone, which is something we really need right now.

How often do you communicate your CEO?

Daily. Sometimes he doesn't like it. (Laughs) But he doesn't have a choice. It keeps me very busy.

 

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