Ahrendts is one of Apple’s most highly paid executives, having received $26.5 million in total compensation last year from the company, which included a $21.5 million stock award — nearly twice as much as CEO Time Cook, according to The Wall Street Journal. She joined the company in 2014 from Burberry Group, and was in charge of revamping Apple’s stores and boosting employee morale.
She will be leaving Apple in April “for new personal and professional pursuits.”
“The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career. Through the teams’ collective efforts, retail has never been stronger or better-positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple,” said Ahrendts. “I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple’s strongest executives. I look forward to watching how this amazing team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world, one person and one community at a time.”
O’Brien, who will be reporting directly to Cook, has been at Apple since 1998. She will be tasked with running Apple’s more than 500 stores on five continents and several online sales channels. In addition, she will continue to oversee all People-related functions, including talent development, Apple University, recruiting, employee relations and experience, business partnerships, benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity.
“At Apple, we believe our soul is our people, and Deirdre understands the qualities and strengths of our team better than anyone,” said Cook. “For more than three decades, she has helped keep Apple focused on serving customers and enriching lives. She’s an exceptional leader, and she’s been a vital partner to our retail teams around the world since the very beginning. I am thrilled to work alongside Deirdre in her new role, and I know our 70,000 retail employees will be, too.”