Just go to Apple’s leadership page and realize: Apple has a lot less senior vice presidents than other companies of the same size. Especially after the departure of two of his most influential figures, Jony Ive and Angela Ahrendts, the impression remains that the Cupertino giant prefers to concentrate the core of its power between fewer heads. And it can be harmful.
This is what a former company executive thinks, heard on condition of anonymity by the The Information. According to him, the current corporate structure of Apple “does not seem to be very effective”, with many attributions spread by few leaders and a potential imbalance between the various activities performed by the company.
The report classifies the structure of the Apple as follows:
The number of people reporting directly to Apple’s nearly 20 top executives (those reporting directly to Cook) has exploded in recent years as the company’s workforce has grown strongly. For example, after retail chief Angela Ahrendts left Cupertino in April, human resources leader Deirdre O’Brien, an Apple veteran close to Cook, added retail to her responsibilities. By bringing together all those who previously responded to Ahrendts, O’Brien now has 23 direct reports – more than any other executive at the top of the company. Likewise, COO Jeff Williams absorbed Jony Ive’s team, adding 2 more direct reports to his 8 existing ones.
According to sources heard by the report, this form of management is a reflection of the corporate culture of Steve Jobs, who has always preferred small leadership teams. Upon returning to Apple in 1997, Jobs drastically reduced the number of senior executives at the company, which, in his view, would make the company more dynamic and closer to each other.
The problem, of course, is that Apple in 2019 is very different – and about 16x greater, in number of employees – from Apple in 1997. Just for comparison, Apple has today 115 executives subordinate to Cook or one of his direct inferiors; Microsoft, for its part, has 546.
Is it time for Apple to change or has things been going well for the company as they are? We will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, a talent recently left Cupertino, as reported by CNBC. It is Greg Duffy, founder of startup Dropcam that came to Apple in 2017 after leaving Google (which acquired the startup a few years earlier). There is no information on the reason for the departure or Duffy’s fate, but it is speculated that, at Apple, he was working on a satellite internet project.
Isabel Ge Mahe
Meanwhile, Apple’s vice president and general manager of operations in Greater China, Isabel Ge Mahe, was announced as one of the three new members of the board of directors / Starbucks.
In addition to it, they joined the coffee giant Richard E. Allison, from Domino’s, and Andrew Campion, from Nike. Professionals will continue to perform their duties in their usual companies; the position at Starbucks serves to oversee the company’s activities and devise strategies, with distinct and diverse views – just like Bob Iger, from Disney, did at Apple until this week.