Apple is seeking to cement its business position in China for the long-term with an expansion of its Cupertino-based Apple University program to the region, according to a person with knowledge of the plans. Apple Vice President and Dean of Apple University Joel Podolny is currently interviewing candidates for a new Dean of Apple University position for China, according to the source.
Started in 2008, Apple University is an extensive and growing program within corporate Apple that trains mid-level employees and managers on the decisions made by Steve Jobs and other key executives throughout the company’s resurgence. Jobs created the program alongside former Yale School of Business Dean Podolny in order to keep the culture of Apple alive well beyond the lifetime of executives key to Apple’s early success.
The expansion of Apple University to China will mark a key step in Apple’s history as a global company. It will be the first time Apple has fully expanded the exclusive program to another region, indicating that it wants to extend its presence in China beyond mostly just sales and operations, like it has done in the United States. Apple has previously offered a minimal amount of courses in other regions and has flown-in professors. With many Apple suppliers headquartered in China, it is likely that a notable portion of the Apple University classes in China will be geared toward product engineering and manufacturing matters…
The existence of Apple University, a college of sort for teaching the Apple way at Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, California, is not a secret. But the details of how Apple University works and what the school teaches have been mostly hidden from the spotlight. Today, The New York Times has published a fairly extensive profile of Apple University, which is well-worth a read.
Unlike many corporations, Apple runs its training in-house, year round. The full-time faculty — including instructors, writers and editors — create and teach the courses. Some faculty members come from universities like Yale; Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford; and M.I.T., and some continue to hold positions at their schools while working for Apple.
Apple University is run by former Yale business school dean Joel Podolny, and Podolny took a full-time role as Dean of Apple University earlier this year as he handed off his former Human Resources responsibilities to Denise Young-Smith. The New York Times’s profile discusses some of the classes. Courses range from those for the leaders of newly acquired companies to learn how to integrate their former businesses into Apple to courses about simplifying products.
In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons. How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.
While Apple University teaches Apple employees some key lessons about Apple’s decision making processes that led to the company’s rapid growth and success over the past decade, the most important take away is that Apple has set up a unique and comprehensive experience for ensuring that the company continues to thrive in the immediate post-Steve Jobs era and beyond.
Denise Young Smith expands role to cover all Apple Human Resources, Podolny goes full-time Apple University
According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple has promoted its Vice President of Global Retail Stores Denise Young Smith to a new position as head of human resources for all of Apple. Smith previously lead HR for retail and replaces the old head of human resources, Joel Podolny, who Apple says will now “focus full-time on Apple University.” Interestingly, in Apple’s statement it noted that “Apple University is an increasingly important resource” and that Podolny will focus “full-time on developing and scaling the University.”
Apple provided the comment below to Bloomberg on Smith’s new position, noting the promotion “will expand her role to lead Apple’s worldwide human resources organization.” The full statement from Apple below: