Ex-Apple VP Angela Ahrendts: ‘Tim Cook is a man of peace’
Apple’s former SVP Retail, Angela Ahrendts, recent sat down for a very revealing chat with the Royal Bank of Canada this week. She shared a ton of insights into Apple and her relationship with Apple CEO, Tim Cook.
A challenge a day
During an extensive talk with RBC Senior Vice President, Office of the CEO at RBC, John Stackhouse, Ahrendts shared a great deal of insight. You can listen to for yourself here on Soundcloud or iTunes.
I’ve selected just a handful of her many interesting quotes below:
“I think when you run a business that big and that global and nearly 70,000 employees when I left, there’s a challenge a day. I think that if it is a challenge, it’s your job to fix the challenge. So when I came in, there were a lot of systems that weren’t connected, there wasn’t a way to communicate.”
On meeting Tim Cook
At some point during its attempt to recruit her, Apple arranged a meeting between CEO, Tim Cook, and the then Burberry CEO, Ahrendts:
“I’ll never forget the first meeting with him because he is such a man of peace,” she said. “And I remember leaving him saying, ‘How do you do this? How do you run something so Titanic but yet he’s so centred?’”
I had tremendous admiration for that after the first meeting.
A year later, Cook convinced her when he mentioned watching her TED talk on Energy.
“You know, you’re meant to be here,” he said.
On the first few days
“They didn’t lay out a lot of the challenges to start with. They had a gentleman in prior to me that didn’t last very long and, and they really chalked it up to leadership and just you know, connecting with the teams and but they didn’t talk a lot about the challenges.
I told him (Tim Cook) at one of the first interviews, I am not a techie. And he very calmly said, ‘Well, you know, I, we got 10s of thousands of those..”
On Steve Job’s vision for retail
Steve Jobs’ spirit deeply lives on in the company, especially with those original retail employees that he hired.
He told all of them…. I mean, probably nearly 20 years ago, when they opened the first store now, he told all of them: “You’re not allowed to sell.”
He said, “Your job is to enrich customers lives. And you need to do that through the lens of education.”
That is a pillar… I think that that is their purpose…
Ahrendts on AI, education and our children’s future
“I often think about left brain right brain dynamic and how we have to get that back as humans. That’s how we’re going to thrive. with robots doing so much around us..
“Are we teaching kids how to tune in to their basic God-given instincts? I mean, they’re so intuitive but you go into class and it’s like no stop, right memorise, etc. And that’s not going to be the future now as a third of the jobs are disrupted. We’re going to be dependent on our instincts and our individual gifts. And so, I think there should be intuition classes from pre k all the way up to university. We have these incredible instincts. Imagine if we hone those as much as we had our minds over the years…”
On Tim Cook’s connection with retail
Apple retail staff retention rates went from 61 to nearly 89% in her five year reign, Ahrendt’s claimed.
“Tim’s always been very connected to the retail teams. I mean from doing Christmas videos to them and he loves the retail teams. He says it’s his favourite part of the business. So now they are behind him and he is behind them.”
There is so much more
There are so many fascinating insight and recollections in this interview. I urge you to listen to it (Soundcloud or iTunes) if you are interested in management, Apple, Apple history, Apple retail or the future of a connected planet.