Angela was born andraised in a small town inIndiana. She acquiredher Merchandising andMarketing degree fromBall State University,Muncie, Indiana, fromwhere she also received.an Honorary Doctor ofHumane Letters degreein 2010
Executive positions Angela Ahrendts joined Burberry in January 2006, and took up the position of CEO on July 1, 2006. Under the leadership of Angela, Burberry is now widely regarded as one of the leading British brands in the world. Prior to joining Burberry Angela was Executive Vice President at Liz Claiborne Inc., where she joined the executive team in 1998. During her tenure, she oversaw the Contemporary, Casual, Bridge and Menswear businesses, comprising more than twenty brands and representing 40% of total company revenues. She previously spent six years as President of Donna Karan International. Burberry, which is headquartered in London and listed on the London Stock Exchange, was founded in 1856.
AWARDS AND MEMBERSHIPS Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Honorary Fellow (2011) St George’s Society of New York, Medal of Honor (2011) Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, Member (2010 - present) CNBC European Business Leader of the Future (2010) Oracle World Retail Awards, Outstanding Leadership Award (2010) Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) Fortune’s Businesspeople of the Year (2010) Financial Times Top 50 Women in World Business (2010, 2011) Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business (2007, 2008, 2011) Crain’s New York Rising Stars 40 under 40 (2000)
Five Questions for Several of FORTUNEs 50 Most Powerful Women TIME asks some todays most powerful women business leaders about their best and worst decisions, barriers to female leadership and the women who have inspired them What is the best and worst decision youve ever made? Best: Joining Burberry as CEO to revitalize this great brand. Worst: Leaving a job prior to having another. What was your dream job as a kid and why? President of Donna Karan, because it was a great company and brand for women. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? Being taken seriously and handling three jobs simultaneously — CEO, Wife and Mother. What woman inspires you and why? My Mother, as I trust her implicitly and know she will always be open and honest, and always has my best interests at heart. What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? The ability to multi-task as life and careers demand more.
Angela Ahrendts Burberrys Angela Ahrendts: High techs fashion model FORTUNE -- Last May, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts flew to California from her London headquarters to introduce herself to an executive she thought could be critical to the future of her business: Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. When the two met at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, they stood in the hall batting around ideas for 15 minutes before even sitting down. Ahrendts explained her vision: to create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it. She just needed a digital platform to make it happen. Benioff sketched a diagram of how Burberry could become a "social enterprise," overlaying technology like Salesforce (CRM), SAP (SAP), Twitter, and Facebook (FB) atop the entire company.
The two might seem anunlikely pair -- the brashtech entrepreneur and thepolished CEO of a 156-year-old luxury retailer --but Ahrendts has beenboldly reinventingBurberrys image andoperations since shearrived at the Britishcompany six years ago.Her moves have paid offhandsomely: Annual salesof some $3 billion aremore than double 2007levels, and the stock hasreturned nearly 300%since Ahrendts arrival,while Britains FTSE All-Share Index is up 24%.
To keep Burberry growing, Ahrendts recognized she needed to woo younger and more global consumers, who communicate and share information -- and shop -- in the digital world. She set out to develop a comprehensive technology strategy, one that utilizes obvious tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and also incorporates enterprise software from companies such as Salesforce and SAP. The approach makes Burberry a standout in the luxury business, which has historically shied away from technology for fear of eroding its aura of exclusivity. "What theyve done, that no other organization in the fashion industry has done, is put a relentless focus on digital innovation," says Maureen Mullen of tech think tank L2. The employees scuttling around Burberrys Horseferry House in London are too well dressed to allow the companys headquarters to be mistaken for a tech startup, but the building does exude the same kind of feel. Seventy percent of the employees at Horseferry are under 30 and are encouraged to peruse Facebook and Twitter during work hours. Ahrendts, 51, spearheaded the offices free- lunch perk à la Silicon Valley.
Ahrendts likes to say that the members of her young employee base act as her interpreters for todays digital world. But Ahrendts herself is an early adopter, often discovering the latest tech advancements through her three children. She was one of the first in the office to acquire an Apple (AAPL) iPad, and she has since outfitted staff across corporate offices and all mainline stores with the device. (Not surprisingly, Burberry makes a line of iPad cases.) During a recent visit by Fortune to Burberrys offices, Ahrendts Skyped with a group of Burberry scholarship winners at Indianas Ball State University, her alma mater. She told the students to check out an article about Zynga (ZNGA)CEO Mark Pincus. If they had trouble tracking it down, they could find the link on her Twitter feed.
Technology plays heavily into employee communications too. Ahrendts and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey do regular webcasts for her workforce, and recently decided to up the frequency from quarterly to monthly. Her talk at a leadership conference in Atlanta in May was streamed at Burberrys offices. Reg Sindall, executive vice president of corporate resources, jokes that at Burberry "we film ourselves filming ourselves filming ourselves." When Ahrendts arrived from Liz Claiborne in 2006, Burberry, which had licensed its name around the globe, lacked a cohesive image, and was underperforming the luxury market. (Retail and wholesale sales were up just 2.2%, vs. the sectors roughly 13% the year she arrived.) Ahrendts started buying back the licenses and moved to find the right positioning for the brand.
Ahrendts and Bailey recognized that the companys British heritage and its iconicouterwear (Ahrendts likes to say the company was born from a coat) had to play a keyrole in defining the company going forward. But they also decided to pursuemillennials, a group its peers were ignoring. It was an emerging-markets play as well,with the companys research showing that high-net-worth individuals in the developingworld were 15 years younger than in markets such as the U.S. and Britain.
But how to communicate with this new demographic? "What is their language?" asks Ahrendts. "And thats when we looked at each other and said, Its digital. " Burberry started filtering everything through that lens. "We just naturally started asking ourselves on every single thing we did, how do we make it more connected, how do we make it more digital?" Ahrendts explains.
She points to her own kids as an example. A few weeks ago when her niece was in town visiting, Ahrendts told her teenage daughter to have her cousin meet them for brunch in an hour. Rather than pick up the phone, she chatted with her on Facebook. "She knows shes on Facebook because they never turn it off," says Ahrendts. "Doesnt call, doesnt e-mail. Thats their English. Thats how they communicate." Today, Burberry has more Facebook and Twitter followers than any other luxury brand of those tracked by consultancy Stylophane. The company spends about half its media budget on digital but concedes it isnt easy to calculate a return on the resources poured into Burberrys technology.