Angela Ahrendts is one of the world’s most high-profile business executives. In her latest role, she oversaw the retail strategy of Silicon Valley design and technology company Apple.
In 2013, Ahrendts left her role as chief executive of British luxury brand Burberry, which she helped to transform from a stale trenchcoat brand into a global fashion force by restructuring the business and focusing on digital innovation.
Upon joining Burberry, Ahrendts shut down 35 product categories, many featuring the widely recognisable Burberry check, as part of her efforts to recast the enterprise as an "inviting luxury company" after years of over-licensing and brand dilution.
Since then, she has overseen the launch of new product lines and the buyback of Burberry’s beauty licenses. She masterminded the company’s retail roll-out into new markets and was an early proponent of the Internet, investing heavily in the company’s e-commerce capabilities, digital marketing presence and in-store technology.
Along the way, Ahrendts has strived to build what she dubs a “connected culture” at the company, not least by interacting directly with employees through dedicated instant messaging channel Burberry Chat. Ahrendts even brought in an anthropologist to study the company culture she helped create, so as to better understand and preserve it.
Before Burberry, Ahrendts was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne, where she joined the executive team in 1998. During her tenure, she oversaw the contemporary, casual, bridge and menswear businesses, comprising more than 20 brands and representing 40 percent of total company revenues. Prior to Liz Claiborne, she spent six years as president of Donna Karan International from 1989 to 1996 and spent one year at Henri Bendel.