global recruitment specialists
What can brands learn from Apple's latest appointment?
With the announcement that Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, is leaving to become Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores for Apple, we take a look at the impact of cross-industry high profile appointments and the benefits to innovation.
Ahrendts will report to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, in the newly created position to expand Apple's retail and online store portfolio globally. A key stage for the future success of Apple is the infiltration of the Asian market. Cook is confident Ahrendts can use her vast retail experience and digital acumen to "build Apple's position as a global luxury brand, particularly in China where Burberry has grown rapidly while the tech giant has struggled."
Ahrendts is not the only fashion player to join, as Paul Deneve, former CEO of Yves St Lauren was appointed to work on special projects for Apple in September. So what can brands wishing to innovate learn from cross-industry appointments like these?
Hiring candidates without industry experience
Finding candidates with digital experience and leadership skills has become one of the main drivers for recruiting across industries, as many brands struggle to innovate to meet consumer needs quickly. One of the main barriers for most large corporations is company structure, with many marketing teams still not closely aligned with IT, despite digital innovation now being recognised as fundamental to a brand's future success.
Companies like Apple are overcoming this through the appointment of Senior Managers with expertise in delivering innovation to change company culture. Apple isn't alone; Samsung, its main competitor in the mobile market, also hired outside the tech industry when they appointed Tod Pendleton (formerly at Nike) to the position of Chief Marketing Officer. Much of the brand's recent success in the mobile market has been attributed to his leadership, helping improve the brand image and lead innovation.
Marketing Week recently discussed the trend for digital experts to move into marketing roles, regardless of industry experience. Companies are fast-tracking candidates with digital expertise into senior multi-channel roles. Brands like Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and John Lewis have all appointed digital experts into Chief Executive or Director level marketing roles to drive digital innovation.
So, does industry experience really matter?
According to Sandra Zoratti, author of Precision Marketing, many companies are looking for marketers who can help drive change. She believes ‘fresh perspective, fresh insights and the unique viewpoint of not knowing too much, can all transform an approach and a business.'
Kate Bullis, a leading tech-recruiter for Silicon Valley technology companies argues that marketing as a skill is ‘highly portable' and believes expertise is more related to ‘who' you are marketing to rather than ‘what' you are marketing.
However, one of the stumbling blocks for brands hiring outside of their industry is the perceived delay and disruption to the development of the company as the new recruit adapts to change. Instead of perceiving the delay as a risk to the business, brands should view this as positive, giving their new appointment a chance to get up to speed with the business and its goals. After all, if brands play safe, they risk missing vital opportunities to innovate and drive future success.