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BlackBerry shakes up its executive ranks as operational changes sweep company

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email BlackBerry shakes up its executive ranks as operational changes sweep company by David Friend, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 25, 2013 7:35 am MDT The executive offices at BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB) are undergoing major changes as the smartphone maker announced Monday that chief operating officer Kristian Tear and chief marketing officer Frank Boulben are leaving.Both joined the smartphone maker in mid-2012 in the buildup to the release of the new BlackBerry smartphones, which have seen sales fizzle.BlackBerry spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger confirmed that both of the executive positions will not be filled.Also, chief financial officer Brian Bidulka will be replaced by James Yersh, who has been with the company since 2008, and board member Roger Martin has resigned.The changes come as BlackBerry reworks its operations in an effort to reduce costs and downsize amid deepened financial losses.The company has struggled to regain marketshare in the highly competitive smartphone industry where Apple’s iPhone and a variety of devices on the Android operating system have taken the spotlight, and consumer interest, away from the once dominant company.Both Tear and Boulben were tipped to be instrumental in the recovery of the BlackBerry name, with Tear being responsible for both operations and sales.Boulben was behind the campaign for the new BlackBerry phones, which included a pricey 30-second spot during the SuperBowl and a series of other television spots that some critics complained undersold the smartphone’s features.Since the launch of the phones earlier this year, BlackBerry has seen its financial results erode, and in the second quarter booked a US$965-million loss mostly on poor sales of its BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen.The company, based in Waterloo, Ont., is reducing its expenses to deal with the decline. It announced plans to lay off 40 per cent of its staff, or about 4,500 employees, and make changes in its executive ranks.BlackBerry tried to sell its operations to other technology companies and investment firms. When that effort didn’t generate a deal, it abandoned the plans earlier this month in favour of a US$1-billion financing deal led by Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH) that gave the company a lifeline to turn around its operations.BlackBerry hired John Chen as interim CEO and executive chairman to oversee the changes, taking over from ousted CEO Thorsten Heins.“BlackBerry has a strong cash position and continues, by a significant margin, to be the top provider of trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers around the world,” Chen said in a release.“I will continue to align my senior management team and organizational structure, and refine the company’s strategy to ensure we deliver the best devices, mobile security and device management.”BlackBerry will report its third quarter financial results on Dec. 20 when it’s expected that Chen could flesh out further details on his plans to reshape the company.Shares of the company were ahead 10 cents to $6.61 near midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.___For more BlackBerry coverage, follow David Friend on Twitter. read more

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One in three sick notes are for mental health problems alarming report

first_img“If anything, this new data may underestimate the scale of the problem,” he added. “Almost half of benefits claimants of Employment and Support Allowance in England are receiving payments as the result of mental and behavioural disorders.”The new system, introduced in 2010, was supposed to encourage GPs and employers to find ways to get employees back in to work, by finding adjustments to hours or duties, to ease pressures.But the figures show that in the vast majority of cases employees were simply signed off, with just one in 20 fit notes suggesting accomodations that could be made.The figures show that that Knowsley, in Merseyside, had the highest number of notes compared to its working age population, while Richmond in south west London had the lowest.Dr Steve Mowle, spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs, said the figures might reflect changing attitudes, and reduced stigma, with employees feeling more able to speak up about mental health conditions.“We know that working is beneficial for our patient’s long term physical and mental health and wellbeing, and we need a society-wide approach, including involvement from employers, to put measures in place to get people back into work, where possible, safely and appropriately,” he said.A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said: “The health and well-being of employees is a key priority for employers. Businesses have a duty of care to their employees that considers mental and physical health as well as safety. Most firms will usually have policies in place – especially if they are large businesses – to help support their staff.”A Government spokesman said: “We’re helping thousands of people to remain in, or get back into work after a period of ill-health.“We’re determined to go further, and these statistics will provide us with a better understanding of why people take sickness absence in different areas across the country.”“Supporting people with mental health conditions is a top priority, which is why we’ve commissioned two expert-led reviews and have invested a record £11.6bn into mental health services.” One in three “sick notes” handed out by GPs are now for mental health problems, amid soaring levels of anxiety across Britain, official figures show.The new data – from the first such investigation across the NHS – reveals that in total, more than 5 million people are being signed off work every year.Mental health and behavioural conditions were the most common reason by far, making up 31 per cent of cases, with a 14 per cent rise in notes relating to anxiety and stress in one year.The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the figures were “alarming,” urging employers to do more to help support staff struggling with common mental health problems such as depression.The head of the NHS said mental health was now “front and centre” of the health service agenda. Musculoskeletal conditions – such as bad backs – were the second most common reason given for issuing the notes, the NHS data shows.The report follows the introduction of a new “fit note” system by the Department of Work and Pensions.  It was intended to end a “sicknote culture” and get employees back to work quicker, by improving access to treatment and finding ways to ensure pressures were manageable.The notes have to be issued by GPs if an employee seeks more than seven days off work.But the new statistics show that one in five of those signed off for mental health problems was off for at least three months.The report, which cover notes issued over a 28 month period, show a sharp rise in the numbers going off sick with anxiety and stress-related conditions, with 573,000 cases in 2016/17, compared with 503,000 cases the previous year. Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS, said: “These figures explain why the NHS is now putting mental health front and centre, in what was recently independently described as ‘the world’s most ambitious effort to treat depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses’.He said funding for services had risen by £1.4bn in the last three years, with an extra 120,000 people getting treatment.“When it comes to mental health, what’s good for patients is also good for taxpayers, because untreated mental health problems directly affect work, unemployment and benefits,” Mr Stevens said.Dr Jed Boardman, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “These statistics are alarming.”He urged GPs and employers to do more to help those with mental health problems to get back to work, saying both needed to be far more active in coming up with suggestions to help struggling individuals.  center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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