Apple announced on Tuesday (5 February) that CHRO Deirdre O’Brien will take over as retail chief from outgoing exec Angela Ahrendts.
For the first time, the retail head will play a dual role as O’Brien continues to lead Apple’s HR team.
The move follows the surprising departure of Ahrendts, who was Apple’s top female executive. She was retail chief for about five years.
According to Bloomberg, O’Brien has worked at Apple since the 1980s. Before taking over the company’s human resources function, she was a vice president in charge of sales and operations. She had to anticipate product demand and make sure the company could reach and sell new devices to consumers.
As vice president of people, she oversees worker development, recruiting, and employee support.
“We are encouraged that a core Apple insider took over the reins at this juncture,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “An outsider running retail going into one of the most pivotal, defining periods for Cook & Co. in the company’s history would have been a risky endeavour.”
Others questioned O’Brien’s dual role.
“Combining HR and retail into one position is more than a little bit odd,” Michael Gartenberg, a former senior marketing executive at Apple, wrote on Twitter. “Apple clearly didn’t want the retail position to be left blank. It will be interesting to see how this plays out longer term.”