IE Becomes New CEO of Apple

By Fernando Lamelas
Industrial Engineer at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts; IIE Young Professional, Southeast Region
B.S., Industrial & Systems Engineering, Tecnológico de Monterrey (México), 2008

On August 24, 2011, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple. Surprising to many? Perhaps. But Steve’s most recent leave of absence from the company and his numbered public appearances over the last year made it obvious things were not going well and that a succession plan was probably being worked out. Both media and investors speculated about Steve’s health, when he would leave the company and most importantly, if Apple would ever be the same if he departed.

In his resignation letter to the board, Steve strongly recommended Apple’s COO Tim Cook to be named as his successor. When I heard Tim’s name, I realized how little I knew about him though moving from COO to CEO seemed an obvious transition. When I got back home from work and sat at my computer for a few minutes, I decided to do a little bit of research and learned more about Apple’s newly appointed CEO. While reading his bio in a couple different Internet sites, I quickly noticed something about Tim that caught my attention: he was an Industrial Engineer.

Tim earned his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University in 1982 and his MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1988. Prior to joining Apple, Tim held various leadership roles of increasing responsibility in companies like Compaq, Intelligent Electronics and IBM. During his tenure at Apple as COO, Tim was responsible for the company’s worldwide operations and sales, including end-to-end management of Apple’s supply chain, sales activities and service/support in all markets and countries. One of his biggest accomplishments was pulling Apple out of manufacturing by closing factories and warehouses around the world. This helped the company reduce overall inventory levels and streamline its supply chain, dramatically increasing margins.

In his new role as CEO of Apple, Tim Cook joins other fellow IEs as head of some of the most profitable and admired companies in the world. Mike Duke (Georgia Tech ‘71) currently leads Walmart and Michael Eskew (Purdue ‘72) lead United Parcel Service (UPS) from 2000 to 2007. Do we see a trend here? I think so. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Just like Tim Cook, Mike Duke and Michael Eskew, you all have the potential to become the next generation of leaders whether that’s in manufacturing, technology, healthcare or service industries. An Industrial Engineering degree sets you up for success for almost any career path you decide to take. It provides you with a holistic view of companies’ processes and systems and gives you the ability to clearly understand the big picture and connect the dots.

To learn more about Apple’s performance over the last 5 years, see Tim’s presentation from the November 2010 keynote conference.

Good bye Steve, welcome Tim.


  1. CF

    Mike Eskew was CEO of United Parcel Service (UPS) not United Postal Service.

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