10 Things You Didn’t Know About Angela Ahrendts

Angela Ahrendts is known worldwide for her role as the former CEO of British fashion house, Burberry, and later as Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores. However, there is far more to her story than her corporate titles might suggest. Delve a little deeper, and discover these ten lesser-known facts about the exceptional Angela Ahrendts.

1. She hails from a small town

Ahrendts was born and raised in New Palestine, a small town in Indiana, USA. Far from the major fashion capitals of the world, her humble beginnings were rooted squarely in America’s heartland. She spent her early life in close contact with her three siblings, all of whom were under the guidance of their compassionate parents.

This rural upbringing didn’t stifle her ambition or appetite for greater achievements. Instead, it gave her a solid foundation of values that she would later apply in her climb up the corporate ladder. It’s no surprise that she attributes much of her success to the lessons learned and the character formed in those early years.

2. She dreamed of becoming a designer

Before she ruled the roost at high-end corporations, Ahrendts had different aspirations. As a teenager, she had set her sights on becoming a fashion designer. Her dreams led her to Ball State University, where she acquired a Merchandising and Marketing degree.

Despite not becoming a fashion designer, Ahrendts has undoubtedly made her mark in the fashion world. Through her leadership at Burberry and her influence on Apple’s retail strategy, her vision transcended traditional fashion design, creating an enduring impact on international brands.

3. Her journey to fame had a rocky start

Contrary to what one might think, Ahrendts’ road to success wasn’t smooth sailing. Her first job post-college was at a men’s suit manufacturer where she had to juggle numerous responsibilities with minimal reward. Despite these challenges, she remained tenacious and used these experiences as lessons towards attaining her lofty career goals.

This early professional setback did not deter her; instead, it set the stage for building her resilience. Her perseverance eventually paid off when she got an opportunity to work for fashion giants like Donna Karan and Liz Claiborne, paving the way for her successes at Burberry and Apple.

4. She revolutionized Burberry

When Ahrendts took over Burberry’s operations in 2006, the iconic brand was encountering challenges with its image. Ahrendts, alongside Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, orchestrated a remarkable turnaround, repositioning Burberry as a front-runner in the luxury market.

Besides elevating Burberry’s fashion status, Ahrendts spearheaded a digital revolution at the company. She was instrumental in integrating technology into Burberry’s retail strategy, creating a seamless online and in-store experience that appealed to an increasingly digital-age customer base.

5. She was the highest-paid CEO in the UK

Serving as the CEO of Burberry from 2006 until 2014, Ahrendts made history by becoming the highest-paid CEO in the UK in 2012. Not only was she the first woman to top the list, but she also outstripped her peers by a considerable margin.

The striking achievement was a testament to her business acumen and exceptional leadership. It was a breakthrough moment that cemented her position as one of the most powerful women in the global business arena.

6. Ahrendts is a family woman

Even with demanding corporate roles, Ahrendts has always prioritized her family. She is married to her childhood sweetheart, Gregg, and they have three children. The family moved with her when she was appointed CEO of Burberry in London, and later to California when she took on a key role at Apple.

In numerous interviews, she has emphasised the importance of keeping a balance between her work and personal life. Crediting her husband for being her biggest supporter and her children as her greatest motivation, Ahrendts considers her family as the cornerstone of her life.

7. She has strong views on leadership

Ahrendts is known for her unique leadership style, which favours empathy, trust and intuition. She firmly believes that leadership isn’t just about making decisions, but also includes fostering unity and cultivating a positive work environment.

She has often emphasised the importance of maintaining a human connection in the technological era. Her leadership philosophy highlights the significant role of emotional intelligence in successful team management, driving her to inspire and develop her teams, and not just manage them.

8. Ahrendts is an advocate for education

Known for being a lifelong learner, Ahrendts is a strong proponent of educational initiatives. She believes in the transformative power of education to create opportunities and improve lives.

In recent years, she has dedicated her efforts to various philanthropic endeavours, focusing on helping improve access to education worldwide. She has also leveraged her position to champion for the integration of technology in learning environments, continuing her mission of leaving a lasting impact on the world.

9. She has received numerous accolades

Throughout her illustrious career, Ahrendts has amassed various accolades that recognize her leadership prowess and business ingenuity. Some of them include being listed on the Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women multiple times.

Other awards include the Fortune’s List of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Commercial, and being made Dame of the British Empire, a true validation of her unprecedented influence in global business.

10. She’s left her indelible mark on Apple

Ahrendts was hired by Apple in 2014 to revitalize its retail experience. During her five-year tenure, she introduced the ‘Today at Apple’ educational sessions, which have become an integral part of Apple Stores globally. This initiative made Apple stores not just retail hubs but community spaces for learning and engagement.

Even after her departure from Apple, her initiatives continue to ripple through the organization, leaving an indelible mark on the brand. Her legacy shows her enduring influence on reinventing retail experiences in the 21st century, blending technology, education, and community effectively.

For more inspiring facts about leaders like Angela Ahrendts, follow these links: Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women.