In an interview for the BBC Sounds podcast Dua Lipa: At Your Service hosted by singer Dua Lipa, Apple CEO Cook admitted that he does not know how long he will remain at the tech giant.
“I love it,” he said, reflecting back on 25 years at the company. “I can’t envision my life without being there, so I’ll be there for a while.”
When asked if there were plans for his successor, Cook said, “We’re a company that believes in working on succession plans, so we have very detailed succession plans. Because something unpredictable can always happen. I could step off the wrong curb tomorrow. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, I pray that it doesn’t.”
“Are you able to say who is in line for succession?” Lupa asked.
“I can’t say that, but I would say that my job is to prepare several people for the ability to succeed, and I really want the person to come from within Apple, the next CEO,” Cook said. “So that’s my role: That there’s several for the board to pick from.”
If he were to depart tomorrow, he’d like be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, according to a 2020 article by Bloomberg.
Williams has played an important part in developing Apple’s new products which include Apple Watch and its various health features. He currently oversees the company’s operations which deals with manufacturing, suppliers, and component sourcing.
Williams oversees Apple’s entire worldwide operations, as well as customer service and support. He leads Apple’s design team and the software and hardware engineering for Apple Watch. Williams also drives the company’s health initiatives.
Williams played a key role in Apple’s entry into the mobile phone market with the launch of the iPhone, and since 2010 has led worldwide operations for all products. He also led the engineering development of Apple Watch. Jeff joined Apple in 1998 as head of Worldwide Procurement.
Prior to Apple, Williams worked for the IBM Corporation from 1985 to 1998 in a number of operations and engineering roles. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Duke University.
Obviously, Williams is qualified. However, what about Craig Federigihi, the current senior vice president of software engineering at the company? He seems like a natural heir to the throne and he is, arguably, the best “face” of Apple during online and live media events.
Federighi oversees the development of iOS and macOS. He returned to Apple in 2009 to lead macOS engineering, and in 2012 took on responsibility for iOS as well.
Prior to his return, Federighi worked at NeXT, followed by Apple, and then spent a decade at Ariba, an internet e-commerce pioneer where he held several roles including chief technology officer. Craig holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Another Bloomberg article lists other potential replacements for Cook. However, I think it will be either Williams or Federigihi and my gut tells me that it’s the latter. (Admittedly, I’m biased as Craig and I have similar hair styles). Whoever the replacement is, Cook is doing a great job, so, hopefully, we won’t have to discover who his successor will be for years to come.