“On a visit to Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, Fortune spoke with Ahrendts, 55, and her boss, CEO Tim Cook, about her role and their longer-term plans,” Jennifer Reingold reports for Fortune. “The first in-depth interview Ahrendts has given at Apple… reveals a lot about the company’s evolving philosophy.”

“What Cook hired her for was not just her retail savvy—after all, Apple’s stores were already the most profitable in the world—but also her leadership. Ahrendts is the kind of person who can conjure passion from people selling scarves, trench coats, or — now — wearable computers disguised as watches. Says Sir John Peace, chairman of Burberry and Standard Chartered: ‘She motivates people. She inspires people. And she is the sort of person who wants to see things succeed as a team. It’s a rare quality,'” Reingold reports. “Ahrendts believes the key to the company’s future is not just marvelous products, but also engaging and energizing its nearly 100,000 employees, 60% of whom now work in the $21.5 billion retail division. ‘If you’re going to employ people anyway,’ she says, ‘why not make them the differentiator? They’re not a commodity.'”

“It has slowly become clear that Cook, who took over just before Jobs’ death in 2011, is developing broader goals, in which the company uses its success to accelerate social change. The ideas, it seems, are just taking shape, but they involve enlarging the role of its stores. Apple has always intended for each of them to be a community center; now Cook and Ahrendts want them to be the community center,” Reingold reports. “The introverted Cook lights up when asked how Ahrendts has done in her 16 months at Apple. ‘It felt like she’d been here a decade her first day,’ he says. ‘I knew she was going to be off the charts, but she’s even more off the charts than I thought. She came in so fast, there was no [learning] curve. I’ve never met a single individual like that before.'”

Tons more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Cook’s best hire to date. Plus, if he, God forbid, ever got hit by a bus, she could slide right into the CEO position. Of that, we have no doubt. Ahrendts’ track record is stellar. Having two world-class CEOs in the executive suite should give Apple shareholders a strong sense of security. Just as Jobs had Cook, Cook has Ahrendts.