This week Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, the company with the iconic tartan fashion. A fashion powerhouse moving to one of the world’s largest tech companies may seem like a peculiar move, but while other Silicon Valley companies, like Google and Facebook, typically hire within the industry, Apple has a history of hiring from unusual places.
Apple’s business strategy, with its famous recruits and vertically integrated approach, is unique within the high-tech landscape. Here are some other interesting places Apple’s current and past executives have come from.
John Sculley, President Pepsi-Co.
“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” That’s what Apple co-founder Steve Jobs asked John Sculley, then the president of Pepsi, in 1983. Jobs recruited Sculley for his success with the Pepsi Challenge marketing campaign. He was brought to Apple at first to work on marketing, but ultimately he and the Apple board pushed out Jobs, and Sculley became the CEO later in 1983. (Jobs went on to found NeXT computers and Pixar, but returned to Apple in 1996. In that frame, you could also say Apple took a bite out of Pixar as well.)
Tim Cook, VP at Compaq and Director at IBM
In early 1998, when iPod didn’t even exist, Steve Jobs recruited Tim Cook from Compaq to oversee manufacturing as the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. Cook, unlike the others on this list, did come from a technology company, but at the time Apple was nowhere near as big as his current employer. Cook ultimately revolutionized Apple’s supply chain and as Apple’s chief operating officer he drastically cut inventory costs through operational efficiency strategies. After Jobs’ resignation in 2011, Cook became CEO of Apple and remains so today.
Ben Shaffer, Director at Nike
In September 2013, Apple brought on Ben Shaffer, Director of the Innovation Kitchen, Nike’s R&D lab. At Nike, Shaffer led design on the company’s Flyknit shoe and worked on the company’s Fuelband wearable fitness tracker. As Apple is heavily rumored to be working on a watch called the iWatch, insiders report that Shaffer has brought his expertise about functional clothing and wearables to the tech company.
Paul Deneve, CEO of Yves Saint Laurent
Shaffer isn’t the only one from the apparel or fashion industry said to be working on that iWatch project. In July, Paul Deneve, the CEO of fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent, was recruited by Apple. Deneve joined the company as a Vice President of Special Projects. Given that YSL is a luxury fashion house, it is widely speculated that Apple is venturing towards luxury hi-tech with its rumored prêt-à-porter technology: the iWatch.
Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry
Ahrendts is the latest example of a high-profile fashion poach for the company. Last week, Apple announced that Ahrendts would be joining Apple from Burberry to oversee the company’s online and retail stores. “Compared to other tech companies, Apple is different because of its retail business,” Brian Collelo, Equity Analyst at Morningside, told ABC News. “It has the entire chain ending with face-to-face sales.”