BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)’s CEO John Chen acknowledged that attracting and retaining good talent is a challenge when the firm is trying to regain some of its lost glory. In an onstage interview on Thursday with Cary Burch of Thomson Reuters at the third annual Waterloo Innovation Summit, Chen said it becomes hard to find good people in a turnaround situation because they need to be assured that their time won’t be wasted.
Retaining employee tough for BlackBerry now
In 2011, BlackBerry had 11,000 employees in Waterloo Region, but now it has only 2,700 employees. “We lost a lot of good people as a company,” Chen said, adding “Not everybody is cut out to be a turnaround person or be in a turnaround environment. But if you can do it — I love it — it is fascinating, it is fabulous. The reward that comes at the end, the feeling of it, is hard to describe.”
Chen is very close to complete his second-year with BlackBerry as its CEO. The Canadian used to be a pioneer in the smartphone technology, but in the past few years, its market share has dropped to less than one percent. He added that the Canadian firm will first have to achieve successes then only it will be able to attract and retain good people.
Working on turnaround
BlackBerry has crossed the midway point in its turnaround effort. Chen said he is making sincere efforts for rebuilding a team spirit at the company as well as changing the workplace culture. According to Chen, the biggest challenge is to execute the turnaround plan that asks for transformation of once-dominant smartphone maker into a company that is focused on software, services, secure communications and Internet of Things, and that too without losing patience.
Chen said one should not allow the market or the competition dictate the space because every good thing takes some time. “But in a public company format, time may not be something you can afford. So we are going to run into bumps. As long as we have our direction straight we are going to get there,” BlackBerry CEO said. Saving the company from going away completely is the only success of Chen and his team for now, the CEO said.