It's hard to imagine other geeks and computer geniuses in the leadership of a major tech company, but Angela Arends, senior vice president of retail and internet commerce at Apple, doesn't like stereotypes. Although, in fairness, he is still afraid of them. When in 2013 CEO Tim Cook offered her an enviable position, she immediately rushed to warn him: “I want to be very honest with you. I'm not a techie at all. " But the Apple CEO seemed confident in her candidacy. The vacancy for which he called Arends had been empty for many months, and Cook himself was eager to get a talented businesswoman, who had previously worked exclusively in the fashion industry, into his team - so much so that in her first year in the new post, Angela earned more than 70 million dollars more thanany of the top managers of the company. Including the CEO himself.
Actually, Angela Arends is still one of the highest paid Apple executives. Her annual income, including salaries, bonuses and shares, hovers around $ 25 million. Always dressed in elegant suits and expensive glasses, she has become the same recognizable face of the "apple" corporation as the late Steve Jobs or the current CEO Tim Cook, who, by the way, still receives half that. She is loved to be included in the lists of the richest, most successful and most stylish - apparently, 32 years of work in leading fashion brands affects her. But, oddly enough, in her case, it was her passion for fashion and remarkable business acumen that gave a unique synergy effect and helped Angela take Apple to a whole new level. How she did it, we tell.
The girl who dreamed of becoming a designer
In the small town of New Palestine, Indiana, where Angela was born into a large religious family of a businessman and housewife, there are no famous fashion shows. Townhouses, a school, a couple of bars, shops and several churches - that's all that the city has, which still has just over two thousand people. However, young Arends found a lot here: a cheerful childhood (the girl was the middle of six children), love in the person of her future husband, whom she will meet in elementary school and whom she will start dating at 18 (yes, Angela and Gregg have been together for 40 years!), and, of course, the dream of becoming a fashion designer. Having already firmly established herself on the Forbes and Fortune lists, the business woman admitted that in childhood she often sewed clothes for herself. “I've always been obsessed with fashion,” she recalled in a 2013 interview with the Guardian."If you look at my school albums, you will see that by the age of 16 I already clearly knew what I wanted."
Ball University, to which an ambitious aspiring fashionist submitted documents, presented America with many grasping businessmen, but Angela dreamed exclusively of a career as a world-famous fashion designer. Perseverance and technique she did not lack, but the most important thing was just not enough - talent. The student's works were simply lost against the background of the images created by her classmates. Arends, to her credit, never envied, but still "always had her own opinion about their sketches" and was not afraid to express it. “In the end,” Angela recalled, “my teacher sat me down in front of him and said:“You behave like a businessman.” Arends appreciated the professor's honesty and from now on never turned against herself: the girl briskly transferred to the Department of Marketing and Merchandising, and the day after her graduation she rushed to New York.to start a career in the fashion business. Even if not as a fashion designer.
Angela bought a one-way ticket, leaving a young man in Indiana and thereby signing up for a long 17 years of long-distance relationship. Calm and measured New Palestine was replaced by a noisy and uninterrupted New York, and with it the new reality of Arends became a tiny apartment in the business district of Manhattan and a schedule of 80 hours a week. “Work has never been just work for me,” Angela recalled many years later. "She was a natural extension of my life."
Probably, it was “life in work” that allowed Arends to quickly build a career without staying for a long time in the same position. In addition, even then, being a lively young girl who could well stay in the office for several hours, Angela bribed everyone around with her responsiveness and ability to listen. “My father often told me as a child:“It's better to be silent and be suspected of stupidity than to open your mouth and immediately dispel all doubts on this score,”Arends admitted to Fortune magazine. This famous wisdom accompanied Angela all her life, and in the early stages of her career, it helped her, just a few years later, from the position of an ordinary employee in the Warnaco lingerie company, to rise to the president of DonnKaran International. Then, in the 90s, she logically relied on wholesale trade and the provision of licenses. The young "businesswoman" was increasingly noticed: the Henri Bendel brand hired her to expand its presence in 50 new markets, and a few years later, Liz Claiborne Inc. invited her to the position of vice president of merchandising and design.
Many years later, Angela recalled that in one of these companies (most likely in the last one), she finally decided on her leadership style when she was strongly advised in the HR department to work on speech and gestures. In an interview with Rebecca Jarvis, Arends said that even at that time she loved to speak emotionally and loudly, accompanying everything she said with active movements with her hands, for which she was often criticized - allegedly for not meeting the standards of a leader.
At the same time, HR sent her to Minneapolis for training in the art of performing, where she was supposed to be re-educated.
“I should have been there for a few days,” laughs Angela, “but it was only enough for me for a couple of hours. I just looked at all these people and said, “I left here. I am not going to become what I am not. I like myself, and I am already quite successful, although all this time I was myself. I’m ready to wake up in the morning and become the best version of myself, but I don’t want to be who you’re trying to make of me. So goodbye!"
A month later, Adrens got a call and was offered the position of general director. At Burberry.
American woman on english soil
On the other end of the line, it was Rose Marie Bravo, then CEO of Burberry, who was looking for a replacement. An offer that any ambitious business woman would hardly refuse: to lead a brand with a rich history, but stuck somewhere in the middle of the last century, and take it to a new level. At least, it was definitely an offer in the spirit of Angela, who left home many years ago with a one-way ticket to New York. But now everything was different. “I finally took control of my life,” she explained to journalist Charlie Rose. "I had a great job in New York, a house outside the city, three children, a dog." So Arends only politely advised Rose to call her a couple of years later and hung up.
But the calls from Burberry didn't stop. Moreover, Christopher Bailey, the creative director of the brand, who previously worked with Arends at DonnKaran, set out to influence Angela's opinion. “We met, had lunch and painted on a napkin all the ideas that would help improve the brand,” Angela recalled. So Burberry got a duo that would take it from the level of a trench coat brand to a full-fledged fashion house adored by millennials.
Angela, Gregg, their three children and a dog crossed the Atlantic. As a mother, Adrens doubted the correctness of the decision to the last, but, fortunately, Gregg was always ready to support his wife and take on the role of the owner of the family. Angela, meanwhile, was preparing to become the new "mom" for Burberry.
By the time Ahrends took over at the head of the company, her experience in retail had been counted for decades, however, it seems that even she could not imagine the full scale of the problems that awaited her. Burberry lost its position in the market - but what even more tore apart Angela's templates was that it lost its position in the hearts of the employees themselves. “The weather in the UK was typically rainy and gloomy,” wrote the business woman in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “However, none of the employees wore Burberry coats or trench coats. If our best people didn't buy our products even at a good discount, how could we expect any of our customers to pay full price for them?"
If in the 90s Angela raised fashion brands by selling licenses for their use, now the woman is faced with the downside of this strategy. By the mid-2000s, Burberry was selling licenses to use its famous cage to so many small firms that at one point the iconic pattern, previously associated with wealth and luxury, flaunted on a variety of products - from baby strollers to household appliances. A photo of the paparazzi caught in the lens the star of the second-rate TV series Dannielle Westbrook, completely dressed in a Burberry cage, received a wide response. A miniskirt, a cap, a scarf, a bag, and even her child's clothes - from now on, the brand's clothing no longer attracted rich businessmen or aristocrats and became a form for the proletariat and the lower class.
Angela, to her credit, grasped the main problem of the fashion house right away, simultaneously cutting costs and removing the famous check from 90% of Burberry products. Together with Bailey, they consistently bought back licenses. “I felt that the first years in the position, I was simply assembling the company piece by piece - not the most pleasant and creative part of the job,” the woman admitted to the Guardian.
To reallocate costs, factories in the UK and overseas had to be shuttered and unionized. However, Angela had to realize her most ingenious idea much later.
Either the new hobbies of the grown children affected, or the business instinct worked, but in the second half of the 2000s, Arends clearly caught the trend for social networks and new technologies and for the growth of the so-called “digital generation”. Angela gave Bailey full creative freedom, and at the same time attracted such young stars as Emma Watson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Kate Moss to advertising campaigns. Burberry gradually became vibrant and youthful, but classic enough for older customers to come to its boutiques. The latter was successfully proved by Arends herself, who wore the brand's clothes to every social event.
Burberry's digitalization has become the main feature of the Arends-Bailey duo. The CEO gradually introduced a new culture to the company: video conferencing instead of expensive meetings with foreign partners, Burberry chat for communicating with employees, 3-D screenings and click-and-buy technology, unique for those times, allowing you to purchase items from a new collection several months earlier. than they appear in stores. After decades of stagnation, Burberry made it to the top five of the richest and most famous fashion brands in the UK in just a couple of years, its CEO in 2012 was recognized as the highest paid executive, and in 2013 - the richest woman in the country. However, no one at Burberry has ever disagreed with such an income for its CEO - after all, her talent was worth every penny. Not in vain,in 2014 she will be made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire - for her contribution to the business of the United Kingdom. But ironically, in the same year, Angela will go back to her homeland - to work for the benefit of domestic business.
Fashion in technology
It's funny that Angela Arends sang the praises of Apple long before becoming its senior vice president. While still the CEO of Burberry, the woman admitted that she considers the "apple corporation" an example of a modern company that creates not just high-quality products, but "lifestyle". It was the sale of the luxury lifestyle that she was engaged in in recent years at Burberry - until the new CEO of Apple himself faced a crisis of his own brand philosophy.
Even under Steve Jobs, Apple took a course not just to sell gadgets, but to create a strong community. Tim Cook, who took over as CEO after Jobs resigned, set out to broaden the corporate goals and shift the focus to social change and brand humanization. So while Angela Arends presented the new iPads to Burberry executives, Cook listened to her Ted talk on the energy of people. “The more technologically savvy a society becomes, the more we begin to need a return to basic values in communication between people,” the Apple CEO later admitted to Fortune that this speech from Arends convinced him that Angela was his man.
Apple's sales were already good - but they needed a new boost. Adrens, who piously believed in the energy of interested people, could definitely give them this impetus.
Her appointment in 2014 raised a lot of questions from the techie and geek community: What would this woman, dressed in Burberry from head to toe, talk to Apple store sellers wearing T-shirts and sneakers? And Angela did not speak - following her father's behest, at first she just listened. In a year and a half as senior vice director, Arends has been able to visit more than 100 stores, call centers and back offices, simply listening to the main complaints of employees and answering their questions. The elegant suit and high heels did not bother anyone: the employees of the corporation were happy to communicate with her on a variety of topics, took selfies with her, and most importantly shared the energy that, according to Angela, is the secret of the success of any brand.
“On the first day it seemed to me that she had been working with us for 10 years,” Tim Cook told Fortune. “I knew she would surpass all our expectations, but even I was surprised. She jumped in so quickly. Without any training."
Retrofitting stores and reshaping the sales concept is only part of what her boss expected from Angela (although the woman did a great job with this, combining online and offline sales teams). More importantly, the new senior vice president's job is to manage employee sentiment. Adrens began to conduct weekly video conferences with employees, and also revived the practice of corporate communications through the Share your Ideas application. According to the business woman herself, she reads all messages from employees, and someone from her team answers them within 48 hours. In addition, it was Angela who raised salaries for ordinary employees and introduced a clearer career growth system.
From Burberry, Ahrends brought luxury to Apple: henceforth, the purchase of a new gadget for the brand's customers has moved into the category of special experiences associated with an elite lifestyle. And it's not about the cost, but how the buyer feels. “Don't sell,” Angela teaches workers. "Create an enjoyable brand experience."
Angela Arends, like no one else, knows what luxury is, because she has been selling it all over the world for almost 40 years. Over the years, she has learned the main wisdom in her field: luxury is not about prices, but about values. And, probably, it is this wisdom that allows her to accomplish to this day what the Fast Company publication aptly dubbed the "revolution in retail".
Photo: Getty Images, Rex, Instagram
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