Picture Credit: Business Insider UK
From a shy girl in a little town in Indiana to one of the highest profile (and paid) executives in top Multinational Companies (MNC), Angela Ahrendts surely went through a relatively huge change in her life. Young Ahrendts has always been interested in the fashion industry, and instead of pursuing studies and career as a fashion designer, she pursued her talent in merchandising and retailing. Thus, most of her career was spent with luxury brands in the fashion industry, until she joined Apple Inc. as the Senior Vice President for Retail and Online Stores. Being well known as one of the most successful business women, Ahrendts has more to her name - she has two other full-time job: as a wife and as a mother to three children. She has been described as compassionate, warm, and most importantly able to balance her family and career well. This is the tip of Ahrendts’ iceberg, - about her unique and compassionate leadership.
As a Senior Vice President, Ahrendts tries to adopt and establish slight changes in the retail employees’ culture. She prefers open and direct communication with her subordinates, and her openness and friendliness are reflected on the way she communicate and interact with her subordinates. She sometimes travels to new Apple Stores opening and constantly and publicly provide positive reinforcement towards her employees, through both verbal communication and her Twitter account. She takes changes or alterations seriously, does things the right way and takes extra effort to ensure the righteousness of her actions.
Picture credit: Business Insider
Since she joined Apple, her focus has been on re-branding Apple Stores as a sort of town-hall that places human interaction between customers and sales assistants as one of their priorities. Influenced by her extensive experience in luxury fashion retail, she has also altered the design concepts to portray a clean and sleek display in Apple Stores. Aiming further, Ahrendts also targets to educate, inspire, entertain and enrich communities through activities which might be facilitated by the Apple Stores (i.e. workshops on design, coding, and programming).
Digging more into her personal values and leadership, in her interview with ABC journalist, Rebecca Javis, Ahrendts mentioned that she grew up with compassion as one of the core values embedded in her mind. In an interview in December 2012 with Harvard Business Review, Ahrendts mentioned the importance of Emotional Intelligence in our lives. In relation to her leadership and talent management, she implores us to, ‘turn off your brain and turn on your heart,’ putting a hand over her heart. She further elaborated that she is just a part of the company - a passing figure, who assists the company to grow. She is there (in Apple) to build a culture that is embedded throughout the company, a culture that puts people first, a leadership style that utilises compassion. Similar values that she built and embedded in her personal life.
Her success in the business world is parallel with her passion and success that she has established in her own family. Between interviews, store launchings and business trips, Ahrendts ensures that she set her boundaries between work and personal life. She ensures that she will be home with her family on the weekends, spending time with them and ensure that she provides adequate guidance and attention to her three of her teenage children as well as her spouse. She keeps most of her private life private, but here we have a peak at the values Ahrendts has stood by as a parent.
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