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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Earlier this week, Tim Cook announced the hiring of John Browett to replace Ron Johnson as the Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple. After spending more than 10 years at Apple, building the world's most successful retail chain from scratch, Johnson was appointed CEO at JC Penney with the difficult task of turning around one of the country's most well-known department stores.

Johnson announced his departure from Apple in June of 2011 and by August Apple's recruiters were in full-swing looking for a replacement. Curiously, for a company where nearly the entire executive team is home-grown, reports emerged that Apple was using executive search-firm Egon Zehnder to assist with finding the perfect candidate. The Wall Street Journal reported that Steve Jobs, at the time still on medical leave, was intimately involved in the decision to hire an outside firm "mainly because he wants to consider executives who are based abroad."

hamburgstore.jpg
The entire executive team at Apple, aside from the just-hired Browett and Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel, has been with the company for more than 10 years. Aside from the general counsel position, Apple's leadership team has remained fairly consistent through the second Steve Jobs era.

Of nearly two dozen current and former executives, only a bare handful were hired from outside the company rather than being promoted from within, and only one -- general counsel Bruce Sewell -- is still with the firm. Apple's most famous crash-and-burn external hire was that of Mark Papermaster, a long-time IBMer who was hired by Apple in 2008 as Senior Vice President for Devices Hardware Engineering. After a lengthy court battle with IBM over a non-compete clause he had signed, he was put in charge of the teams behind the iPod and iPhone, and presumably the early development of the iPad as well.

Papermaster finally started work at Apple on April 24, 2009, nearly six months after he was originally hired. He left the company after only 15 months, just after the Antennagate scandal.

He was in charge of the division that created the iPhone 4, and Papermaster's departure would seem to be that of an executive who fell on his sword over perceived issues with Apple's flagship product. However, Adam Lashinsky's book Inside Apple notes that there was more to it than a simple product miscue. Papermaster's years at IBM left him ill-prepared for the aggressive corporate culture at the top of Apple.
Steve Jobs was on medical leave when Papermaster, who declined repeated requests to be interviewed, started at Apple. By the time Jobs returned, the word on Papermaster was that he wasn't fitting in. He wasn't seen as fighting hard for his division, a requisite internally. "Papermaster is a really nice guy, proverbially the guy you'd want to have a beer with," said someone who interacted with him during his time at Apple. "He is warm, patient, and willing to listen--just not the right qualities for Apple. It was so painfully obvious to everyone." It was said that when he came back to work, Jobs paid little attention to Papermaster, meaning the new executive had achieved "bozo" status in the founder's exacting judgement."
executiveteam.jpg
Inside Apple is full of tales of the unique culture at Apple, such as the lack of profit-and-loss reports for individual divisions, like those that exist at most large companies. Apple's idiosyncratic culture and the complete lack of external hires at the top -- plus the short life-spans of those that have been tried -- mean John Browett, currently the CEO of European technology retailer Dixons Retail, could be in for a bumpy ride.

browett-150x224.jpg
From both Apple's press release announcing the move and an email Tim Cook sent to an Apple customer about Browett's hire, it's clear that Apple is not hiring Browett for his experience at Dixons. Browett's hire has raised some concerns from Apple fans because of poor shopping experiences at the different retailers he was in charge of. Instead, Cook is hiring Browett for his enthusiasm for amazing customer service -- something Apple puts a lot of stock in -- as well as his international expertise.

John Browett is Tim Cook's first major hire as CEO, and a lot of analysts and Apple fans will be watching to see how it plays out. Though it is likely Steve Jobs had extensive input on the process both before he resigned as CEO and before he passed away, Tim Cook is indisputably in charge.

The first Apple Store opened in 2001, more than 10 years ago. Apple Retail's second 10 years are called the "decade of significance" within the company. It seems likely that retail will continue to be Apple's most noteworthy corporate initiative -- showcasing both the brand and its products to millions of visitors a week -- and John Browett, a complete outsider, is Apple's choice to run it.

Article Link: Apple's Hiring of an Outsider is Out of Character
 

Winter Charm

macrumors 6502a
Jul 31, 2008
804
270
Hmm, I wonder if there were internal politics at play, or if Apple simply did want someone who was well versed in setting up large chains around the world (even if those chains were rated worse ever).

Apple knows how to make awesome stores, and perhaps they just want someone who knows how to expand all over the world on a larger scale.
 

Kris400

macrumors member
Jul 14, 2008
55
1
I don't get it at all. "Amazing customer service"? - that's the one thing that's TERRIBLE here at Dixons and PC World.

The people working at these places just come across as cheap salesman trying to flog as much stuff as possible, who will say anything to succeed no matter what.
 

wickerman1893

macrumors 6502
Dec 16, 2008
468
0
At one point or another the hiring of major outsiders is necessary, it allows for more innovation and creativity IMO.
 

3282868

macrumors 603
Jan 8, 2009
5,281
0
"Papermaster is a really nice guy, proverbially the guy you'd want to have a beer with," said someone who interacted with him during his time at Apple. "He is warm, patient, and willing to listen--just not the right qualities for Apple. It was so painfully obvious to everyone."

I get that corporate culture is rough and competitive, but lord, do you have to be a p***k to work at Apple???
 

SirDaav

Guest
Jun 26, 2010
32
0
Amazing customer service....

The thing that makes no sense is that sure, this hire believes in amazing customer service.... But at no company he has worked for, has he been able to realize his belief. Well he said it is his belief, but in practice you could easily say it wasn't.

So he's really a failure at customer service and as a VP charged with improving things.

In fact, many would agree, during his tenure at his previous employers, THINGS GOT WORSE.

This is pretty bad for Apple - they have hired an overpaid, proven failure.

I guess he smiles a lot during interviews. That must have been it.
 
Last edited:

ktappe

macrumors regular
Oct 10, 2003
111
16
Wilmington, DE
Apple culture

Papermaster was "warm, patient, and willing to listen--just not the right qualities for Apple."

This does not reflect well on the rest of the team, as it certainly implies they are not willing to listen and act like mature adults. :(
 

badtzwang

macrumors regular
Sep 1, 2009
102
0
Wasn't Ron Johnson (the person that John Browett is replacing) also an outside hire? Not sure why its surprising that they decided to do another outside hire.
 

*LTD*

macrumors G4
Feb 5, 2009
10,703
1
Canada
Papermaster was "warm, patient, and willing to listen--just not the right qualities for Apple."

This does not reflect well on the rest of the team, as it certainly implies they are not willing to listen and act like mature adults. :(

Would do you mean by this?
 

3282868

macrumors 603
Jan 8, 2009
5,281
0
Papermaster was "warm, patient, and willing to listen--just not the right qualities for Apple."

This does not reflect well on the rest of the team, as it certainly implies they are not willing to listen and act like mature adults. :(

Exactly what I was thinking. Then again, read some of the forum threads on MR, perhaps that type of personality is common-place amongst the I.T. profession?
 

aristotle

macrumors 68000
Mar 13, 2007
1,768
5
Canada
Doesn't look like diversity has reached the executive suite at Apple.
How 1950's.
Right, because your ethnicity or gender has anything to do with your performance. :rolleyes: I would hate to see Apple hiring based on ethnicity or gender rather than merit.

If someone is the best person for the job then they should hire them regardless of gender or ethnicity.
 

3282868

macrumors 603
Jan 8, 2009
5,281
0
Right, because your ethnicity or gender has anything to do with your performance. I would hate to see Apple hiring based on ethnicity or gender rather than merit.

Um, I think it was a joke :) (sometimes people need to lighten up a bit online)

:)
 

superduperdom

macrumors member
Sep 1, 2010
60
1
"Cook is hiring Browett for his enthusiasm for amazing customer service". Has Tim Cook ever been to any of his soulless ripoff wastelands ? Depressing news.
 
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