As one of the most powerful women in the America—if not the world—Angela Ahrendts has a career anyone would envy. The senior vice president of retail strategy and online stores at Apple is the highest-paid employee at one of the largest and most influential brands around the globe. And as the hugely successful executive who is credited for bringing a personal touch to Apple retail stores everywhere, she has a lot to teach all of us.
Here are six facts about the Apple executive's career and personal life. Who knows? Maybe they'll help you hone your own path!
1. Ahrendts got her start—and spent most of her career—in the fashion industry.
Ahrendts graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a degree in marketing and merchandising. She moved to New York to work in the fashion industry after graduating and held several positions before joining the luxury brand Donna Karan. She held several other positions, including Executive Vice President at Liz Claiborne, before becoming the CEO of Burberry in 2006.
2. Her fashion background is the mastermind behind the design of Apple stores.
When Ahrendts joined Apple, she sought to give the tech giant the feel of a luxury brand, initiating an overhaul of the retail stores and adding many more.
That's why Apple stores have the feel of a "town square" where people can chat with friends (and Apple Geniuses) and browse high-end products.
3. She's a mother first.
Ahrendts is married to her childhood sweetheart, Gregg Couch, and has three children. Couch quit his own business to take care of the family's homes. While at Burberry, Ahrendts said, "We have a lot of women working here, and I always tell them they are mothers first."
4. Why did Apple CEO Tim Cook hire her? It's simple.
"She’s wicked smart,” Cook said.
5. She owes her success to her character and core values.
"The intuitive, feeling heart will never mislead you, in work, a relationship, or with family," she said in her 2010 commencement address at Ball State, her alma matter.
6. But not everyone agreed with her approach.
Those core values have gotten her far, but once upon a time, she was advised against following her better instincts.
A human resources manager at the company where she worked at the time told her her leadership style needed some work, and she needed to make some changes, such as not talking with her hands, if she wanted to someday be a chief executive officer.
The company recommended that she travel to Minneapolis to work with a coach. After a couple hours, Ahrendts knew it wasn't for her. She left. A month later, she got the call from Burberry, and became a chief executive officer, after all.
"I just think that to thyself be true," she said.