Tim Cook gives no indication of a man ready to retire. However, Bloomberg News’s Mark Gurman reported that he and his management team are beginning to focus on succession planning for both him and other senior executives. Many of them have been at Apple for a number of years and are approaching their mid-to-late 50s.

Jeff Williams Next in Line to Replace Tim Cok as Apple Boss

It is generally considered that should Mr. Cook walk out tomorrow, current COO Jeff Williams would succeed him. As Mr. Gurman’s piece noted:

In many ways, Williams is seen as pragmatic as Cook and as someone who wouldn’t let the company miss a beat. He is an operations-focused executive like Cook rather than a product visionary like Jobs or former design chief Jony Ive. With the company’s decade of success under Cook, it’s unlikely the board would want to shift away from this proven formula.

No Room For Outsiders

What’s notable, is the piece assumes that the next leaders of all the other divisions will be insiders. One of the potential exceptions is General Counsel, where outsiders have previously been hired. However, in fields like hardware and software engineering, as well as marketing, those already at the company are considered the most likely to takeover from those currently running divisions. It is true to say that some of those cited in the piece, such as vice president of Intelligent Systems Experience Sebastien Marineau-Mes, were clearly brought into Apple a few years ago with the intention of moving them up the management chain. (In Mr. Marineau-Mes’s case he left Blackberry in 2014.) However, others, have been at Apple for a decade or more.

Tim Cook announcing Apple's Racial Equity Initiative

To be fair, if you’re a board member of the first $2 trillion U.S. firm, why would you look too far afield? However, sometimes an outsider’s perspective can be a good thing – see Angela Ahrednts undoubted influence (both good and bad) on Apple retail. A changing Apple might do well to have some new faces.

Still a Lack of Diversity at Apple’s Top Table

Another thing I have to note is the lack of women considered to be in line for the biggest jobs. Indeed, only Priya Balasubramaniam, head of operations for the iPhone and assumed to be an eventual COO, is really mentioned. It is often noted that Apple’s top team is both very male and very white. The names that appear to be moving up the corporate ladder don’t seem to change that much, but if Apple is starting to focus on the next stage, perhaps that will change.

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cubefan

No organisation should be without a succession plan, ever, playing the ‘what happens if’ game should be more evident in a year when the unprecedented has happened. The whole point about having Business Continuity plans or Disaster Recovery plans is that you ACTUALLY test them, once in a while. Executive succession plans fall clearly into Business Continuity. Not having a plan or a successor usually means wasting a lot of time and effort looking for one. Never be the one that’s irreplaceable because that’s a whole bag of hurt and potentially being stuck in a job you might grow to… Read more »