Angela Ahrendts, formerly of Burberry, is now about to become “formerly of Apple.”
For five years, the tech company’s e-commerce and physical shops have been operating under the ex-fashion executive. That tenure will come to an end in April, as Ahrendts hands the reins over to Deirdre O’Brien, the company’s current vice president of people.
In her expanded role as the new “senior vice president of retail and people,” O’Brien — a three-year Apple veteran — will report directly to chief executive officer Tim Cook.
Typically, the purview of executives with the word “people” in their title covers employees, and indeed, O’Brien oversaw talent development, as well as Apple University, recruiting and related functions. Now she extends her people skills to customers as well, focusing on shoppers and their experiences.
“At Apple, we believe our soul is our people, and Deirdre understands the qualities and strengths of our team better than anyone,” said Cook. “For more than three decades, she has helped keep Apple focused on serving customers and enriching lives. She’s an exceptional leader and she’s been a vital partner to our retail teams around the world since the very beginning. I am thrilled to work alongside Deirdre in her new role, and I know our 70,000 retail employees will be, too.”
Today, O’Brien inherits a sprawling operation covering 35 online stores and 506 retail locations across five continents. Much of that has to do with Ahrendts’ leadership.
“She has been a positive, transformative force, both for Apple’s stores and the communities they serve. We all wish her the very best as she begins a new chapter,” Cook added.
Apple did not immediately respond to a WWD request for comment, but in the company’s statement, Ahrendts said, “The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career. Through the teams’ collective efforts, retail has never been stronger or better positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple.
“I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple’s strongest executives. I look forward to watching how this amazing team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world one person and one community at a time,” she said.
It’s been a lucrative run for Ahrendts at Apple.
According to the company’s regulatory filings, Ahrendts received total compensation of $172.8 million over her five years there. Most of that — $151.4 million — came in the form of stock awards, which are subject to market fluctuations, among other things.