Tim Cook was appointed CEO in 2011 when Steve Jobs stepped away from the company as his health worsened. Cook was handpicked by Jobs to be his replacement, having served as a close friend of Jobs during their entire career together.
A graduate of Auburn University with a degree in industrial engineering, Cook earned his Masters from Duke University’s School of business. Prior to joining Apple, Cook spent 12 years at IBM, then served as the Chief Operating Officer of Intelligent Electronics. He then had a short stint at Compaq.
Cook first joined Apple in 1998 after being recruited by Jobs. Cook remarked in a commencement address at Auburn University that, five minutes into his interview with Jobs, he knew he wanted to join Apple. “My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius,” he remarked.
At Apple, Cook started out as senior vice president of worldwide operating. He served as interim CEO during in 2009 while Steve Jobs was on medical leave. In 2011, Cook again stepped in to lead day-to-day operations while Jobs was ill, before ultimately being named CEO permanently just before the death of Jobs.
Cook has been very outspoken on a variety of social issues, including the need to protect user data and privacy, as evident by his vocal refusal to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen. Cook has also voiced his displeasure with controversial legislation that enables LGBT discrimination in a handful of states in the Untied States. Likewise, Cook has frequently called on the United States Congress to pass LGBT protection legislation. He became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2014, as well. Cook has led Apple in the San Francisco Pride Parade in recent years.
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