Celebrated Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts joins technology giant Apple this spring as Retail Chief and opinions remain divided on just how she will turn around the iconic brand but whether Ahrendts spearheads wearable technology or revitalizes retail operations at Apple, one thing is for certain: her unique leadership qualities and remarkable ability to innovate will ensure Apple’s future is bright.
Read the Fast Company article to learn more about how Ahrendts transformed Burberry, her challenging new role at Apple and how she unplugs every morning to ensure she’s always on top of her game.
Apple’s retail team should expect plenty of interactivity from Ahrendts. At Burberry, she communicates constantly with her 11,000 employees, sending emails to thank them for a particular contribution and frequently jetting to offices and stores around the world (she tries always to be home by Friday night to be with her husband and her kids, who are 18, 17, and 13). She is adamant that significant news be shared first with staff, so that they never learn about their own company by reading the papers. She does a weekly video update–soon, perhaps, Apple staff will joke about how perfect Ahrendts’s hair is, just as they did with Johnson. Her main message is usually “thank you.” Sometimes that’s an epilogue to an all-hands call to action: “I will sit there on the webcast and say, ‘Okay, guys, we’re nearing the end of the quarter and it’s really tight, but I know we’re gonna make it because there’s 11,000 of you out there,’ ” she says. “‘Could you do me a favor? Just one extra call to a customer? ‘Cause if you do that, we’ll win.’”
Despite external appearances, Ahrendts claims not to be an extrovert. Her alone time comes early each morning, shortly after she wakes around 4:30 or 5. She draws a bath and spends about half an hour meditating on inspirational books–some days, the poetry of Maya Angelou; others, some Jim Collins or The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, by the Christian writer John C. Maxwell, a book she has read and reread. “That is my peace. That is my space,” she says. “The world is moving fast. Unless I can come in in the morning and smile, walk in the lobby and say, ‘Good morning!’–if I am stressed–I am not going to do a good job. Everybody is watching us. They are feeding off of our energy.”
This alchemic mix of accessibility and aspiration, mass market and luxury, is what Ahrendts cultivated so well at Burberry–and what she will need to repeat at Apple.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON FAST COMPANY AND READ IN CONVERSATION WITH ASMALLWORLD’S CEO SABINE HELLER, AN INSPIRING JOURNEY OF ANOTHER TURNAROUND CEO.