Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to depart in April; Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People

Apple today announced that Deirdre O’Brien is taking on new responsibilities for Apple’s retail and online stores in an expanded role as senior vice president of Retail + People, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. After five transformative years leading the company’s retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts plans to depart Apple in April for new personal and professional pursuits.

In her expanded role, Deirdre will bring her three decades of Apple experience to lead the company’s global retail reach, focused on the connection between the customer and the people and processes that serve them. She will continue to lead the People team, overseeing all People-related functions, including talent development and Apple University, recruiting, employee relations and experience, business partnership, benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity.

Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People
Deirdre O’Brien named senior vice president of Retail + People
“At Apple, we believe our soul is our people, and Deirdre understands the qualities and strengths of our team better than anyone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement. “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.”

“People come to Apple to do the best work of their lives, and our retail teams show their passion every day, in every interaction, all around the world,” said Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of Retail + People, in a statement. “It is the opportunity of a lifetime to work with, and learn from, such a talented, diverse and imaginative team. I am looking forward to this journey, and to continuing the important work of the People team in supporting all of Apple’s amazing employees.”

Angela Ahrendts
Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President, Retail, Apple Inc. to depart in April
Apple today operates 35 online stores and 506 retail stores on five continents, staffed by teams who are dedicated to enriching lives and serving their communities. Every Apple retail store location offers innovative programs for customers, including Today at Apple, designed to unlock creativity, inspire learning and encourage connection.

“I want to thank Angela for inspiring and energizing our teams over the past five years,” said Tim Cook, in a statement. “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.”

“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,” said Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail, in a statement. “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.”

Source: Apple Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Well now, that was certainly a very lucrative five years for Ahrendts.

Seems like it was just last week that we wrote:

Having Ahrendts, with a highly successful CEO-ship on her resume and available to step in for Cook at a moment’s notice should some unforeseen tragedy happen, is invaluable.MacDailyNews, January 29, 2019

Yup, just one week after a nice big, glossy spread in Vogue Business (“Apple’s Angela Ahrendts has a plan for next-gen retail“) Ahrendts is out. Guess her plan didn’t go over so well.

“For new personal and professional pursuits,” smacks of being shown the door. Hundreds of millions of dollars later, no less.

And, just like that, Apple no longer has a seasoned CEO on hand in case of emergency.

Ahrendts’ last two tweets sound like she thought she’d be around for longer:

Now, can we get somebody to convince Jonny to lose those awful, hard-ass, POS wooden boxes that are strewn about Apple Stores?

And, oh by the way, call them “STORES,” because that’s what they are. Thanks in advance.

Apple’s Angela Ahrendts has a plan for next-gen retail – January 29, 2019
Why Angela Ahrendts left Burberry for Apple – June 20, 2018
Ralph Lauren to add Apple’s Angela Ahrendts to Board of Directors – May 9, 2018
Angela Ahrendts is again Apple’s best-paid employee – December 29, 2017
Apple now requires CEO Tim Cook to fly only on private jets – December 28, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook paid close to $102 million for fiscal 2017 – December 28, 2017
Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women: Angela Ahrendts #13, Laurene Powell Jobs #14 – November 2, 2017
Deirdre O’Brien named Apple’s vice president of People – July 21, 2017
Tim Cook took home $10.3 million, Angela Ahrendts earned $25.7 million in 2015 – January 6, 2016
Apple’s Angela Ahrendts emerges as highest-paid U.S. woman with $83 million – May 5, 2015
Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts paid $73.4 million in cash and stock last year; BoD member Drexler steps down – January 22, 2015
Apple’s new retail chief Ahrendts granted $68 million in restricted stock – May 6, 2014


    1. Jeff Williams, who can’t ship a product on-time to save his life and who has never been a CEO.

      Like MDN said: “And, just like that, Apple no longer has a seasoned CEO on hand in case of emergency.”

        1. But which doesn’t come close to making up for the lost markets that distracted Apple leaders gave away in the last decade. Watches will NEVER replace personal computers with big screens.

        2. Waitaminute. Think we have something here. Apple Watch replacing Mac’s! Why not? Who needs lots of power, productivity and big displays anyway.

          At last we see Apple’s clear direction. Your office on your wrist!

        3. Head of Siri: gone
          Head of Retail: gone
          Head of Hardware Technologies/CPU dev: stays

          Lot’s of elemental/material stuff determined in the last week.

          I vote yes for these 3. More?

        4. Well TX User, Apple hasn’t been able to walk and chew gum at the same time lately have they? Is it normal for a company as rich as Apple to be unable to update its flagship desktop Mac for 6 years?????

          The Watch has stolen focus and resources from all the things Apple used to do well: iPods, Macs, and software have all gotten stale while Williams plays with his little wrist notifier.

          Whoever replaces Cook needs to be able to keep ALL Apple products fresh.

        5. And just how, pray tell, do I edit the 30+MB photos in Photoshop, the one’s used in my exhibitions and for stock photography without a PC with a big screen? On a watch?
          You’re delusional.

        6. I never said anything about a watch. Just because MOST people use cars, doesn’t mean that there are not dump trucks.
          Try to skate to where the puck will be not where is was last week.
          Look at Apples products. That “computer” in your pocket. That tablet that people talk about replacing computers. That cloud where your documents are stored.
          Most people do’t need to edit 30 MB photos like you seem to think they do just like most people don’t need dump trucks.
          I’m no more delusional than steve jobs.

  1. Best of luck to her.

    But i never saw the value she brought to Apple specially with the gigantic signing bonus and pay..
    Lets see what the new vp brings to the picture…?

    1. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the Apple Store experience does not seem to have changed much at all over the past five years. Perhaps things are different in the newer stores, but not in the one in Baybrook Mall (Houston area).

      Angela may have “inspired and energized” the Apple Retail teams, but it has not been evident to me.

  2. Well, she didn’t pocket “hundreds of millions of dollars” as MDN states, but she did pocket W-A-Y too damn much. Probably 100x too much.

    Definitely too much considering Apple’s retail segment (both physical and online) is worse today than is was before she signed on (at least according to my experience and that of many people I know).

    1. “Ahrendts has received at least $170 million in compensation during her time at Apple, counting salary, bonuses and the value of vested stock awards, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.” – Bloomberg,
      FEB 05, 2019

      “At least.” When you factor in the value of her stock awards, many still to vest, she’ll be well north of $200 million for 5 years, or $40+ million per year on average.

      Who says Apple execs are overpaid?

      1. It is very likely none of the stock awards or reduced price stock options (and none of us know the strike price of those options) that have not already vested will vest now that she’s “voluntarily” quit to do other things.

        I still contend that it was not “hundreds of millions of dollars”. Most of those media accounts inflate income of C-level to the maximum theoretically possible, and Bloomberg is almost certainly doing that here including stock awards and options (with assumed zero strike price) at the time of award and not at time of vesting or acquisition by the person.

        And, even at that, I still contend she was overpaid by over a factor of 100x. Even at $1.7 million (1/100 of the claimed $170 million and thus ~$340 thousand a year) she was over paid for her tenure.

        1. Yeah, I guess for someone like you that $340K pa for running a global retail organisation would seem like a lot of money. Go back to your job and make sure those fries don’t burn.

        2. Just FYI, I did make sure the fries didn’t burn working for a fast food place — 45 years ago. Been there, done that.

          Currently I’m the founder and the major stockholder of a company that Deloitte values at $2 billion. That’s a lot smaller than Apple, but a lot larger than the vast majority of businesses in the world. Plus I almost routinely do other work for defense contractors and the DoD/IC. So I do know a bit about pay for C-level positions and how their compensation works.

          I’ve been using and buying Apple equipment continuously since the late 70s. I’ve even negotiated purchases of over 1,000 Macs at one time for a special project. Again, been there, done that.

          I get on this site to clear my head for a couple minutes between meetings and tasks. Then I may be gone for a few days or more due to job constraints.

          My apologies to the rest of the readers here, but I felt “Richie Mac” needed a dose of reality.

        3. As I recall, Shadowself, Angela was compensated on the order of $15M or so just to move to Apple. Apple covered unrealized gains that she would have made if she had not moved. I suspect that at least some of her non-salary compensation has vested. In fact, I would not be surprised if the vesting period was…five years.

        4. Yes, you’re right. Tim Cook and the board authorized a truly ridiculous hiring package. It’s almost as ridiculous as Ameleo’s severance package, which was truly obscene.

          IF the vesting period was five years, then the vast majority of her stock package was not vested (except the hiring package, which fits within that 5 year period). Likely some fraction of each grant/option in subsequent years was vested upon award and the rest vested over time — likely over five years or more.

          I’m not saying that none of her stock grants/options are vested. I’m just saying…

          The media routinely reports compensation as if it were 100% vested at the time of the award.


          It is EXTREMELY rare that everything vests completely over very short periods of time.

          Thus her actual, in pocket, compensation is very likely to be less than the total $170 million that has been reported.

    1. Absolutely correct, Realist.

      The Apple store experience has definitely degraded under Angela’s watch. Gone are all the highly recommended third-party hardware and software for sale stuffed shelves. Customers years ago could purchase non-Apple products on site and employees would cheerfully advise on how best to integrate and improve your Apple experience. I bought HP printers, Lacie external storage and many others.

      Pay no attention to the parting bland platitude cheerleading about the brightest retail team. Angela simply took MORE AWAY from stores than she added. But then again, that is the new normal under greedy Apple and icon minimalist design specialist Jony Ive.

      The millions they paid Angela to be a resume fashion poser is the WORST WASTE of money under Cook’s leadership. The worst acquisition of a company was buying Beats, but that’s another story.

      But what I find most interesting and MORE troubling is the executive departure trend the last few days. Head of retail leaving. Head of AR leaving. Siri head reassigned. Protect Titanic Chief left months ago.

      Gee, if that happened to Cook, Ive, Cue and Schiller, IMHO Apple would be a much better place positioned for CREATIVE GROWTH and deliver serious attention to ALL products in the future…

  3. “And, just like that, Apple no longer has a seasoned CEO on hand in case of emergency.” – MDN

    LOL, I can’t tell you how many times I scoffed at MDN’s take about Angela. What about her resume at a fashion retail store, is going to transfer to running a high-tech company, where operational logistics are the most demanding in the whole world?

    Apple has a dozen people on staff who could run the company.

    1. Don’t sell yourself short! The real Thelonious Mac always exuded a sense of style underneath his overall contempt for pedestrian business leadership. As to that, Angela’s departure may point to exactly that — her own dissatisfaction with Tim Cook’s vision, which many of us have also identified as coming up short. She didn’t see him stepping down to make way for her, so she’d been shopping around for another company to improve. Good for her — she isn’t content to be a placeholder. Genius is always on the move.

    2. Love your comment. Perhaps she will go to JCrew. They’re in dire need of a retail executive of her caliber. A fashion retailer that is. She did a good job at Burberry but Apple isn’t a fashion retailer. Grossly overpaid in my opinion.

  4. MDN for years touted the ‘greatness’ of Angela Ahrendts signaling her as the next CEO of Apple. Just like how they were obsessed with Marissa Mayer (how many times did they post a picture of her sitting on that stupid red ball).

    Stop analyzing with the head between your legs MDN, good grief.

  5. Has anyone actually been in an Apple store of late? I recently had to pick up at new laptop, and unless I wanted to buy something else; no one was interested in helping answer my set up questions. I intentionally went to another store in another town, same concept.

    Customer service sucks; and if any of the executive team reads this. You might want to let Ms. designer store go before April.

  6. I find somewhat uncomfortable to read the PR spiel about appointing O’Brien. The long message talks a lot about how good she is for the STAFF etc, looking out for them and so on.

    And before the SJW among us start flaming me, let me say all that, taking care of staff etc, IS important BUT the REAL function of head of RETAIL is actually to SELL PRODUCT. Which is not mentioned AT ALL which I find disturbing. the bulk of the introduction is about how she will Make WORKERS HAPPY!

    Where is her cred for BEING A MASTER SALESPERSON? Selling is completely left out of the introduction. With stock down where is the spiel on how she would be BOOSTING SALES? What innovation will she will bring to selling Apple stuff ? Please note one more time she’s going be head of RETAIL, the front line of selling.

    I find it weird and uncomfortable. Worse then Ahrendts she seems to have NO SALES credentials at all.
    (It’s like hiring the head of chip engineering who is not an engineer).

    Most master salespeople have sales in their blood and started selling at a young age like Steve Jobs. They love selling.

    Also when Jobs was around (from what I read) he never hired people by convincing them belonging to Apple was so great for them in compensation, benefits etc, he told them working for Apple was HARD but it was a chance to ‘make world changing products’, the famous ‘Do you want to sell Sugar Water or Do you Want to Change the World’. He said that to Pepsi leader Sculley and used a slightly altered version to hire Cook , both from good well paying more secure jobs in bigger companies. Working for Apple was not so much about what you get but what you Contribute.

    today it all seems to be coddling workers, look at the billions spent on Cafeteria doors, four temperature latte machines, designer door handles, fruit gardens, ‘select wood furniture’ etc for the campus etc. and now the entire speech for head of retail seems to be how good she is for staff.

    Is getting people to work at Apple because ‘changing the world’ by making and selling products is not convincing due to the lack of belief they can make visionary products but instead they tout personal benefits like designer chairs ? (I hope not).

  7. Four quick thoughts:

    Deirdre O’Brien has a huge amount of responsibility on her back. Tough to do a job really well when you are overloaded.

    I have noticed over the years that companies with culture issues start loading titles on a select few. Sort of like dictatorships.

    After examining the Vogue Business article I can’t help but wonder if there was an issue with Angela Ahrendts popularity. I doubt the timing is coincidental.

    The board of directors may have been checking out leadership alternatives as part of their required oversight. Is is possible that the current leadership felt threatened by these actions?

  8. Successful CEOs CFOs COOs et al are almost always so b/c of standing in the right place at the right time. That’s why paying a shit ton of money for a celebrity executive almost never works out over several years. After the first several million, shareholders are just paying to make a rich guy or gal richer money that could have been deployed to invest in better people at mid- low levels where it really has impact.

  9. The end, perhaps, of Apple’s delusions of charging a premium for “luxury”. The gold watch the best example of this stupidity, appealing to footballers and rappers – scoffed at by everyone else.

    Apple lost its way, putting an accountant in charge and elevating a designer to product supremo. Along the way they alienated many of their most ardent fans. They still can’t make a keyboard that works and software quality is pathetic.

    You can fool some of the people, some of the time…

  10. She was a great inspiration but ultimately paid the price for beleiving in the Apple brand more than the reality of tech sales. She led an investment of hundreds of millions into ‘today at apple’ an amazing program- but one with largely empty seats in stores across the world.

    The reality is that most customers just want a phone that works great – at a great price. The percent that want to walk around a Mall or town and take ‘creative photos’ is hugely less. The sad reality is that if Apple ran sessions on ‘how to save battery’ they’d fill up.

    At the same time she allowed changes such as the removal and reduction of B2B sales Managers in stores here in the US – key people to help drive complex volume iOS sales and created more complex retail sales tiers – failing to understand that the iPhone essentially sells it self at a consumer level. You don’t need a ‘Pro’ role . You just need to price it right.

  11. Apple reminds me of the Washington Redskins. They keep paying big bucks for high profile names, that just don’t seem to be producing. Jobs was like Belichick, could take average talent and make them rock stars. Apple doesn’t seem to be capable of reading talent well since Steve died. It’s been hit and miss, with some major misses standing out.

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