Angela Ahrendts, one of the UK’s most powerful women, formerly CEO of Burberry now Senior Vice President of Apple, has warned other working mothers that they can’t do it all and that something has to give. She described herself as having ‘three jobs’ as a wife, mother and Senior Vice President. But how has this level headed power house risen to the top ranks by putting her family first?
Angela grew up in Indiana as part of a large close knit family. As one of 6 children she longed to leave home to find her own voice, and the day after graduation she left on a one way ticket to New York to pursue a career within the fashion industry. Prior to taking up the role at Burberry, she held a number of senior positions within fashion including for Donna Karan and Liz Claiborne. In 2o12 it was reported that she was the highest paid CEO in the UK making $26.3 million, and in May this year Angela joined Apple as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores, prompting Fortune Magazine to name her as one of the most powerful women in business.
“I’m so proud that my husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next month.”
Although it’s important to recognise that businessmen are never asked how they juggle their family and career; it’s also important to note that women tend to be nurturers who value their role as a wife and mother as well as their careers. So how does she balance being a wife, mother and business woman? She wakes at 4.35am most days, survives on less than 6 hours of sleep a night and refuses to work late more than once a week. This is a refreshing view, considering other women in senior positions such as Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, have gone back to work within days of giving birth and regularly work long hours.
Angela on the other hand regularly turns down invitations to exclusive A list events to spend time with her family, because her family is more important to her. She met her husband Gregg in elementary school and after a 17 year long distance relationship, married and had 3 children. As a mother she feels it’s her responsibility to set a good example to other working mothers, and encourages them to put their family first and to make motherhood their priority. “Those children are their legacy and they have partners and that’s a big obligation…I’ve never gone to the Oscars because I can’t afford another week away. It’s not more important than my husband and it’s not more important than my kids.”
So with all that she’s achieved to date, what are her greatest accomplishments? “I’m so proud that my husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next month. We have three amazing teens, two wonderful Bernese mountain dogs and two beautiful rag doll cats.”
She said in an interview with The Sunday Times: “I don’t want to be a great executive without being a great mum and a great wife. I don’t want to look back and say I wish I had done things differently. Balance is a really big word for me.”