Retail Exec Promoted, Will Head Company-Wide HR

February 11, 2014

Even as some of Apple most talented retail store executives have left the company, one exec is moving up. Today the company announced that Denise Young Smith has been promoted from VP Global Retail Stores to head the company’s Human Resources Department. The promotion dovetails with the promotion of company HR head Joel Podolny to dean of Apple University, an internal leadership development program begun in 2008. In an email to Bloomberg News confirming the promotion, Apple spokesperson Christine Huguet said, “We are excited that Denise Young Smith will expand her role to lead Apple’s worldwide human resources organization.” Young Smith, 58, is an original Apple retail employee, recruited in 2000 as director of retail HR and eventually promoted to retail vice-president. She graduated from Grambling State University (La.) and received a degree in communications and journalism. In college she also participated in dance, music and theater activities, talents that she practices today as a singer. Young Smith has performed at Carnegie Hall, according to her bio, at overseas music festivals and in the San Jose area. Young Smith is a frequent visitor to retail store grand openings, particularly as Apple has expanded internationally. Few retail executives have moved upward through the company, particularly in recent times. In fact, since Sr. VP Retail Ron Johnson left the company in June 2011, several other top and mid-level executives departed rather than seek promotions. The retail Sr. VP position has been vacant for the past 15 months, but Burberry exec Angela Ahrendts was appointed to the spot last year, and is due begin work in May.

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