Apple SVP Angela Ahrendts Treats All Retail Store Employees as “Executives”

Angela Ahrendts appeared recently in an interview with Charlie Rose of 60 Minutes in which she invited Rose and viewers inside Apple’s store of future. Ahrendts then told Rose that she holds meetings in that mock-up store every week to discuss potential changes to retail design and more. Fast Company’s Rick Tetzeli sat down with Ahrendts to discuss her past two years at Apple and what it takes to make a change inside a successful business.


Apple’s retail chief explained that in her first six months at the company she travelled to 40 different markets and met with store leaders. All she did was listen and learn, and only after that did she start thinking about where she could contribute and add value.

When asked if retail workers shared the same pride working for Apple as employees in Cupertino, Ahrendts pointed to Apple’s 81% retention rate in 2015. She also highlighted how she sees these employees, who get in touch with customers on a daily basis.

We just ended the year with the highest retention rates we’ve ever had: 81%. And the feedback [from Apple Store employees is that it’s] because they feel connected. They feel like one Apple. They don’t feel like they’re just somebody over here working with customers. I don’t see them as retail employees. I see them as executives in the company who are touching the customers with the products that Jony [Ive] and the team took years to build. Somebody has to deliver it to the customer in a wonderful way.

After a month at Apple, she found an explanation for why it is one of the most successful companies on the planet, she says: the strong culture within the company, that it was built to change people’s lives. And Tim Cook continued had his own explanation: “It’s also our responsibility to leave it better than we found it.”

The thing I didn’t know before I came in—a month in, I told my husband, “I now know why this is one of the most successful companies on the planet: Because the culture is so strong. The pride, the protection, the values.” The company was built to change people’s lives. That foundation, that service mentality, that drive to continue to change lives—that is a core value in the company. And Tim [Cook] then has added his on: He says it’s also our responsibility to leave it better than we found it.

Image credit: CBS News