Apple Inc. (AAPL) promoted Denise Young Smith to lead human resources, selecting an insider with experience in the retail-store division as the iPhone maker seeks to attract and retain top talent.
Smith is replacing Joel Podolny, who will focus full-time on Apple University, according to Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple. Smith is the latest woman to join Apple’s top ranks, which also include Katie Cotton, vice president of communications, and Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry Group Plc chief executive officer who will lead retail operations.
Even as revenue decelerates, Apple is vying with Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and other technology companies to recruit top engineers. Apple ranks 35 in a survey of best places to work by Glassdoor Inc., down from 10th place in 2012. The two Web rivals and Intel Corp. all placed higher in the employer-review website’s latest poll. Smith previously led human resources for Apple’s retail operations, which employed 42,800 of Apple’s 80,300 workers in the latest fiscal year.
“Apple’s still a great place to work, but they’re not experiencing the uber-growth they once did,” said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group in San Francisco who has a buy rating on Apple stock. “You have a situation where every startup wants to hire the hottest talent out of Apple.”
Apple has seen engineers, designers and marketing managers move on to new positions with other technology companies. Several Apple alumni including iPhone software designer Mike Matas were behind Facebook’s new smartphone application, Paper. Several dozen Apple employees went to work for Nest Labs Inc., the digital-thermostat maker founded by former Apple executive Tony Fadell and recently acquired by Google. Some have also gone to work for app developer Flipboard Inc. and hardware maker Jawbone. Samsung Electronics Co. has also lured several Apple employees.
CEO Tim Cook also has been adding managers at the Cupertino, California-based company. Former Adobe Systems Inc. Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch, former Yves St Laurent Group CEO Paul Deneve and former Hulu LLC executive Pete Distad have joined, among others.
“We are excited that Denise Young Smith will expand her role to lead Apple’s worldwide human resources organization,” Huguet wrote in an e-mail. “Apple University is an increasingly important resource within the company as we continue to grow, so Joel Podolny will be focusing full-time on developing and scaling the university he helped establish.”
Apple is also seeking to codify its management style. Podolny, former dean of the Yale School of Management, was recruited by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2008 to create Apple University, a manager-training program. Jobs was involved in setting the curriculum, including a course called “What Makes Apple Apple,” and others that examine pitfalls to avoid through case studies of other companies.
“Steve was never big on performance metrics or succession planning or those kinds of things,” said Bob Borchers, a former Apple marketing executive.
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