back to article Apple hands keys for retail to HR boss amid flagging iPhone sales

Apple has entrusted consumer sales as well as the horcrux that contains its "soul" to company veteran Deirdre O'Brien, who adds the retail and online division to a job sheet that already included heading up global HR. The rejig is due to Angela Ahrendts leaving her post as senior veep of retail in April for "new personal and …

  1. Starace
    Flame

    At least they're consistent

    Giving senior roles to people because they're available rather than a good fit.

    A bit like replacing an inspirational salesman and ideas guy with the soulless man from operations and supply chain management.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least they're consistent

      Haha, just like intel replacing the CEO wit the CFO

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: At least they're consistent

      I wonder who in actuality was responsible for the poor market analysis, sales projections and pricing.

      Easier question : who was not responsible? Given the breadth of such executive failures I nominate the tea boy, the janitor and night-shift security. Maybe a coder or two. They are the only ones justified in wearing a “Worn’t me” badge. Pretty much everyone else should do the mea culpa thingy.

      Oh forget it. Nobody resigns in shame these days.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: At least they're consistent

      Sure, but to be honest, a good manager will not necessarily be a subject expert. I always thought that Jean-Louis Gassée (once of Apple) got it right when said that managers are their to serve employees. Establishing trust with employees and listening to their issues and suggestions while being able to explain (and of course) develop company strategy (the sort that doesn't depend upon "waste" or "synergies") is the key attribute.

      It's a bit dated but Lou Gerstner knew fuck all about computers before he took over IBM and he didn't do a bad job.

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: At least they're consistent

        Sure, but to be honest, a good manager will not necessarily be a subject expert.

        Whilst I agree with that comment, I've NEVER seen anybody competent emerge from HR's management ranks in my fairly lengthy career. Cook is burnishing his brown-stained credentials if believes that an HR tosser is going to turn round their retail arm when somebody who really, really knows the subject can't. The problems are down to Cook and the product/price proposition.

        The world's best retailer will struggle trying to sell a $1,500 device in volume when a savvy buyer can get something as good for a quarter of the price elsewhere. I can't speak for you, but I've bought a number of working cars for less than Apple think their latest iTat is worth. Faced with a choice of a shitty ten year old Peugeot or the latest iPhone, I'd still see the knackered old car as better value. Cook is like our politicians - out of touch, and out of his depth.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: At least they're consistent

          I can't speak for you, but I've bought a number of working cars for less than Apple think their latest iTat is worth

          No need to, FWIW I'm on my second, second-hand Samsung S5 but I do have a full-fat 2016 MacBook Pro (before the stupid touch thing was introduced). I agree that the move to turn everything premium was a mistake – didn't they bring in someone for Burberry to do just that? But, obviously a lot of people are still prepared to pay a substantial premium for the perceived value of the Apple brand.

          The worry for Apple has to be, that, spirals can be both vicious as well as virtuous: more suppliers are reporting big reductions in orders.

          I was just making a general point about managers. Apple need ones with vision to drive innovation because even with the best branding in the world, Apple isn't going to become LVHM.

  2. Giles Jones Gold badge

    It's not the person running retail to blame but the people running engineering and the people deciding on what useful ports to remove.

    Premium Apple pricing now only gets you nice design, the reliability and quality of engineering has declined massively in the name of greed and their obsession with slim devices.

  3. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    Put HR person in charge of sales

    What could go wrong?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Put HR person in charge of sales

      HR have been putting the innumerate in charge of engineering for a while now and that didnt work out well.

    2. fortyrunner

      Re: Put HR person in charge of sales

      Before everyone jumps on the HR angle. She was heavily involved in operations and the opening of the Apple Stores. Sounds like a really good person to head retail.

      https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/02/07/profiling-deirdre-obrien-apples-new-head-of-retail

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no problem with Apple calling HR 'People'...

    ...I always viewed the transition from 'Personnel' to 'Human Resources' as a backward step, since the phrase 'Human Resources' could apply equally to a sweatshop or a Soylent Green cannery. So actually hats off to Apple for at least making a show of remembering who HR is supposed to be for.

    1. MJB7

      Re: Who is HR for.

      HR is there to protect the senior managers and the company from the workers. They are not there to protect the workers at all

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who is HR for.

        I sit on disciplinary panels with HR etc. The number of employees (And oddly union reps) who assume HR is there to "help" is astonishing. I make a point now of stating at the start of meetings that HR are there to "ensure due process is correctly followed" and nothing more - they are essentially there to ensure that if a recommendation to fire someone is made, it can be followed through.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: I have no problem with Apple calling HR 'People'...

      @AC, "the transition from 'Personnel' to 'Human Resources' as a backward step".

      You're right. I've seen it said, by others of this parish, that "Personnel" comes from "Person" i.e. someone you work with; whereas "Human Resources" comes from "Resource" i.e. something you use.

  5. herman Silver badge

    NObody wanted the job!

    HR was unable to find anyone. Apple goods are impossible to sell? Not a ringing endorsement at all.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: NObody wanted the job!

      Only anecdotal evidence - my teenage daughters seem to be of the impression that their begged for iPhones are no longer of use due to the walled garden and unable to join in on whatever transient app their friends are playing with at the moment,

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    retail teams show their passion every day, in every interaction

    Call me a prude, but that sounds like the sort of behaviour that would get you onto some sort of register, or the subject of a restraining order.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      That's just marketing speak for 'They have a job and we are paying them.'

      Of course, if you think of them emulating Steven Paul Jobs, then the passion that they are exuding in every interaction takes on a whole new light. I would pay to go and watch Apple retail teams treat addi.. customers the way SJ treated people.

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      "Passion" means lots of things. It's not so long ago that it still meant "uncontrollable fury", which I honestly would pay a small ticket price to witness at an Apple Store.

      But the original meaning of the word "Passion" was as a contrast to "action". It meant to be uncontrollably subjected to something unpleasant by an external power*. Actually, now I say that...

      __

      * this older meaning is why the "Passion of Jesus Christ" is so called in Christian theology.

  7. x 7 Silver badge

    When HR takes over retail operations, you can safely assume the hatchets are out

  8. DougS Silver badge

    All this discussion

    Assumes that this move will be permanent. Being in charge of retail is a big promotion from being in charge of HR, and it doesn't make sense for one person to do both jobs. I'll bet they announce a new head of HR by April. Everyone is reading the announcement seeing it doesn't say that she is a temporary fill-in running retail, but ignoring that she might now be exactly that in her old job.

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