John Chen was born on Canada Day, 1955. This is a good omen for Canada’s titan of
technology, BlackBerry. As Interim CEO, and perhaps the future new CEO, this Chinese speaking executive is in great stead to build new growth and partnerships for BlackBerry. What else do we know about Mr. Chen?
Born July 1, 1955
Alma mater Brown University
California Institute of Technology
Occupation Former CEO of Sybase, Interim CEO Blackberry Ltd
John S. Chen (born July 1, 1955) was chairman, chief executive officer and president of Sybase, an independent software vendor specializing in data management, analytics, and mobility technology until January 2013. He has also been a director at BlackBerry, Wells Fargo & Company and Walt Disney Company. As of November 4, 2013, Chen is interim CEO of Blackberry Ltd.
A native of Hong Kong, John Chen graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon School, an elite prep school in Northfield, Massachusetts. He then went on to graduate magna cum laude from Brown University in 1978 with a BS degree in electrical engineering. In 1979 he received his MS degree in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.
John S. Chen began his career as a design engineer with Unisys, where he eventually served as vice president and general manager of, in turn, the Convergent RISC Platform Division and the Convergent UNIX Systems Group. In 1991 he joined Pyramid Technology Corporation as executive vice president. Chen was elected president, chief operating officer and a director of Pyramid in 1993, serving until 1995.
Chen next joined Siemens Nixdorf as a vice president in 1995. He was promoted to president and chief executive officer of Siemens Nixdorf’s Open Enterprise Computing Division in 1996.
In 1997 Chen became president, chief operating officer and a director of Sybase. He was named chairman, CEO and president of Sybase in November 1998.
Chen developed and led Sybase’s re-invention strategy to evolve what had become a mature slower growth technology company into a $1B+ high-growth innovator. First, Mr. Chen returned Sybase to profitability and improved its balance sheet. He then defined and implemented Sybase’s “Unwired Enterprise” strategy to reposition the company, leveraging its database knowledge to create new offerings that addressed the emerging markets for analytics and mobility.
Under Chen’s leadership, Sybase achieved strong financial performance and shareholder returns, including 55 consecutive quarters of profitability, $2.8 billion of cash generated, and a 28 percent compound annual growth rate of its market capitalization from a low of $362 million to $5.8 billion in 2010, when it was acquired by SAP AG.
Board and trustee appointments
Chen will be appointed executive chairman of the board and interim CEO of BlackBerry in November 2013, responsible for the company’s strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals. He was elected a director of the Walt Disney Company in 2004 and of Wells Fargo & Company in 2006. He has also served on the board of the CIT Group Inc., and as a member of the New York Stock Exchange’s listing advisory committee, as well as the boards of several high-tech start-ups, including Beyond.com, Niku Corporation, Wafer Technology and Turbolinux US.
He is also a trustee Caltech  and the Brookings Institution, national trustee of The First Tee, governor of the San Francisco Symphony, past chairman (2009–2011) and longtime member of the Committee of 100 and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Chen is actively involved in international relations. He has testified before Congress on U.S.–China trade relations. U.S. President George W. Bush appointed Chen to serve on the President’s Export Council in 2005. In 2006, he was appointed co-chair of the Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee.
Additionally, Mr. Chen chaired the U.S.-China Policy Advisory Roundtable for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The Brown University School of Engineering awarded Chen its BEAM (Brown Engineering Alumni Medal) Award in 2003.
Chen holds an honorary professorship from Shanghai University, and honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, City University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
In recognition of his leadership in building U.S.-Asia relations, Mr. Chen has received awards from the US-Asia Institute (2009), the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, and the California-Asia Business Council (2007). The U.S.-Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation has recognized Chen for his corporate board work.