Angela Ahrendts and Deirdre O’Brien

Personally, I was gobsmacked by the announcement.

As we posted last night, Apple formally announced that Angela Ahrendts would be leaving Apple this April, naming Deirdre O’Brien as the new senior vice president of Retail + People.

I’ve long been a fan of Angela’s. Hard to know what aspects of Apple Retail success she should get credit for, how much of those plans were in place when she arrived, but that aside, I’ve always appreciated her intelligence and her well spoken representation as the public face of Apple Retail.

Here’s a little publicized interview from a few years back that CNBC just posted, with Angela talking about retail.

And if you are unfamiliar with Deirdre O’Brien, here’s a short backgrounder to fill in a few of the details.

From Apple’s announcement:

In her expanded role, Deirdre will bring her three decades of Apple experience to lead the company’s global retail reach, focused on the connection between the customer and the people and processes that serve them. She will continue to lead the People team, overseeing all People-related functions, including talent development and Apple University, recruiting, employee relations and experience, business partnership, benefits, compensation, and inclusion and diversity.

It is interesting to look at the updated Leadership page, where Deirdre is the only person with a “+” in their title (Senior Vice President, Retail + People). Plenty of “and”, but no other “+”.

Retail and HR are such different spaces, I can’t help but wonder if that + is a stopgap, a temporary assignment until they find someone else to take over one spot or the other. Or, perhaps, that + is simply a typo, and Deirdre is in both camps for the long haul, with an and in her future.