Jim Balsillie, BCom '84
Co-Founder and Retired CEO
Research in Motion
During his 20-year tenure at RIM, Balsillie was responsible for all aspects of strategic, commercial and financial operations as the Waterloo-based company grew from start-up to global sales of $20 billion. His awards include: Time Magazine World’s 100 Most Influential People, Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year, Mobile World Congress Lifetime Achievement Award, three times on Barron’s list of ‘World’s Top CEOs’ and once on CNBC’s list of ‘Worst CEOs’. He was the sole Canadian member of the US Business Council.
Along with his corporate pursuits, Balsillie has interests and passions for public policy that can help build critical capacity in Canada. A noted philanthropist, he is the founder of the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI); the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) and the Arctic Research Foundation (ARF). He is a co-founder of Communitech; and the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) where he currently serves on its Global Advisory Board. In 2010 he was appointed by the UN Secretary General to serve as the private sector representative on the UN High Panel for Sustainability. Balsillie is the current chair of Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (STDC) and CIGI. In recent years he has spoken frequently on the global intellectual property rights and regimes and the need for Canada to improve its capacity for global commercialization.
In his own words:
“I know that the best part of my U of T BCom was that most of my courses were from the Faculty of Arts and Science, including the mandate that we complete all required courses for a Specialist in Economics. Though the course load was heavier, all graduates received the dual benefit of developing critical thinking as well as applied commercial knowledge. I was privileged to have esteemed professors like Canadian constitutional expert Peter Russell, macroeconomist Jack Carr, and Myron Gordon for finance, as well as guidance and support from Trinity College Provost and environmentalist Kenneth Hare.”