BlackBerry

  www.blackberry.com
  www.blackberry.com
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6 people found this helpful  

I enjoyed my time there, but they are in very serious trouble

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - R&D in Waterloo, ON (Canada)
Former Employee - R&D in Waterloo, ON (Canada)

I worked at BlackBerry full-time (more than 5 years)

Pros

Despite the cultural dysfunction, the insane micromanagement constantly raining down from SVP and VP level, lack of teams paying attention to any email coming from outside their divisions, and constant rolling layoffs, working there puts you in the top 10% of all earners in Canada and benefits, though reduced from before, are still very good compared to other Canadian employers. A lot of people wonder why engineers don't get out before the ship goes under - well, in Waterloo at least you'll be taking an instant 30% pay cut unless you get into Google Waterloo (hard), so it's rational to stay even if you don't get redundancy, unless you want to move away from KW.

There is plenty of untapped talent in many of the software teams at BlackBerry, and the top engineers with one or two exceptions are mostly very, very good indeed. They managed to deliver a brand new platform in three years for a reasonable price tag, something which almost every tech major has blown billions on in some dismal white elephant, and the product is by far and away the most mature new mobile platform ever launched. Unfortunately, the consumers simply don't care - it's all too little, too late, and the product simply is not selling. Now they have announced they're going to put themselves up for sale and fire 40% of their staff, they're basically saying they give up and they're cutting out all the consumer stuff they can't spin out as a crown jewel. It's sad, because a lot of very good talent will lose their jobs and because KW is saturated with former unemployed BlackBerry engineers, a lot of them will have to move away from the KW area.

Cons

The biggest single problem at BlackBerry is the very mediocre senior management - there are about three VPs who are fit for purpose, and not a single SVP. Yes, they really are that bad. Thorsten himself is by far and away the brightest gem in the top ranks, but being surrounded by such second and third rate people (a legacy from the Balsillie days, Balsillie couldn't stand having brighter people than him around him every day) he could never have succeeded. That said, Thorsten made quite a few tactical mistakes early on, mainly in that he should have fired a whole raft of senior people as soon as he took over (and I could name exact names and why, but I won't here) and he should have promoted a lot of extremely capable people from just below VP level to VP or higher (and got rid of most of the existing VPs, many of whom are dire).

The second biggest problem is the micromanagement, and the mental exhaustion and blinkered vision that generates on senior management. Most Directors shield those below them from the worst of it, but my god is it bad. A SVP wants to regularly know - in detail - exactly what every one of thousands of employees under them is doing and why so they can feel like they know what is going on to the smallest possible detail. This might be doable if the SVP had a clue about what the engineers actually do, but it's like describing Fine Art to a blind person, and pointless especially as most senior management are from the C and Java days, and don't understand anything about C++. There is a huge focus always coming down from senior management on the next few weeks with a maximum time span of three months - anything past that is outside their radar, and you might as well not bother. This kills any attempt to do anything different which might take more than a few weeks, and most of the useful longer term work items get sneaked in by foresighted teams pretending it's something else, which isn't the right way to manage a tech company.

The third biggest problem is lack of a CTO in a multinational tech company. There is a very good political reason for this I won't mention here, but anybody who works at BlackBerry knows exactly why BlackBerry has no CTO and will never have a CTO. That problem should have been fixed by Thorsten first day he was CEO, and not dealing with that political baggage has done a great deal of damage.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

It's too late now to return BlackBerry to greatness, but it was a good attempt. Carry on with the plan of breaking up the company into what can be saved.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Approves of CEO

1150 Other Employee Reviews for BlackBerry (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Limited Growth opportunities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IOT Specialist in Ottawa, ON (Canada)
    Current Employee - IOT Specialist in Ottawa, ON (Canada)

    I have been working at BlackBerry full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Relatively good compensation package ( salary , Insurance, etc)
    Young environment

    Cons

    Limited Growth opportunities
    Bad management decision causes a lot of re-work and redoing of the procedures

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    unrealistic timetables causes further delay.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    Great experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at BlackBerry full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I received a ton of training while at RIM. And the people I met were amazing. Plus, back in the day, it was such a thrill to work for such an amazing company.

    Cons

    Way too many managers and levels of managers. A lot of mgmt had no clue what was going on down on the front lines. Back in 2007/2008, money was just thrown around like crazy. There was definitely too much arrogance amongst the senior executives.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Understand what your own teams are doing. Talk to the workers. Find out what is working for them and what isn't. My senior director had no idea what my team even did. He asked someone on another team to explain what our role was and what we did. Definitely not a comforting feeling to know that your own director (2 levels up) has no idea what projects you're working on, or what you actually do on a daily basis.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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