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Bloomberg: Apple ‘increasingly focused on succession planning’ as Tim Cook enters 10th year in CEO role


A new report from Bloomberg today highlights that Tim Cook and his team are “increasingly focused on succession planning” as he enters his 10th year as Apple CEO. The report explains that Apple is increasingly looking to “cultivate its next class of top managers.”

Mark Gurman at Bloomberg writes:

As Cook begins his 10th year at the helm, his management group is filled mostly with senior vice presidents who have worked at Apple for more than two decades, made tens of millions of dollars and are at or near the ages of 55 to 60 when many previous executives have stepped aside. That, along with typical corporate planning, has spurred the Cupertino, California-based company to cultivate its next class of top managers, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified talking about internal company discussions. Apple declined to comment.

While Cook has given no indication that he’s ready to step aside, today’s report says that current Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams is internally viewed “as the heir apparent” for the CEO position. Williams is “seen as pragmatic as Cook” and an “operations-focused” executive, again much like Cook.

For product marketing, Greg Joswiak just recently took over from Phil Schiller as Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. While Apple only made the transition public last month, Bloomberg reports that Schiller “had been gradually handing off some responsibility for years.”

As for the successor to Joswiak, Apple reportedly has a list of potential candidates, with the current front-runner being iPhone marketing VP Kaiann Drance.

Other potential contenders include Stan Ng and Susan Prescott. Ng, vice president of Apple Watch marketing, has been a mainstay in Apple’s marketing organization since the late 1990s, starting off on the Mac, transitioning to the iPod, and then working on the iPhone before the Watch. Prescott, 55, oversees marketing for apps and enterprise.

As for the software engineering team, Craig Federighi is “likely to remain in his role for several more years,” given that he is the youngest member of the Apple executive team at 51 years old. Sebastien Marineau-Mes, vice president of Intelligent Systems Experience, and Jon Andrews are seen as two potential successors to Federighi down the line.

Apple’s operations division is one of the most important teams, currently led by Sabih Khan. The most likely successor is Priya Balasubramaniam:

But the most likely long-term successor, according to people familiar with the group, is Priya Balasubramaniam, head of operations for the iPhone. Balasubramaniam has been in her current role since 2014 and joined Apple nearly 20 years ago. She is in charge of the production, supply chain and repair network for Apple’s most important product as well as underlying components.

The full report at Bloomberg is well worth a read and outlines more details on Apple’s succession strategy for the CFO position, hardware engineering, and much more.

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