10th Jul 2013

From Paris to Silicon Valley..

The rumours were put to rest last week when Apple officially announced that former Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve has been hired to work on “special projects”. He is employed in a VP capacity and will report to CEO Tim Cook. The announcement comes following reports that the tech giant is planning a new focus on “wearable technology”. At a conference in May Cook mentioned that he finds wearable computing "profoundly interesting", and with Apple recently trademarking iWatch, a "smart watch" is expected in the near future. With this new focus it seems fitting that the style-conscious purveyors of the finest lines in computer technology should enlist the expertise of one of the top men in french fashion.

At first glance the jump from a Parisian fashion house to Silicon Valley may not seem entirely natural for Belgian Deneve (53), but he is not totally new to Apple - in the 90s he held various sales and marketing roles for the company in Europe. While his experience in the fashion industry includes senior roles at luxury brands Nina Ricci and Lanvin prior to joining Saint Laurent. So in many ways Deneve seems like the perfect fit for this new venture, with a track record of  innovation, style and impressive numbers - during his time at Saint Laurent revenues nearly doubled.

Deneve is not afraid of making bold decisions, as he proved in March last year by hiring the controversial Hedi Slimane as creative director of then YSL. Though Slimane met with some criticism (by dropping the "Yves" of the brand name for one), Deneve's decision proved auspicious – last year sales at Saint Laurant rose 34%.

Deneve’s ability to make tough decisions will stand him in good stead in his new role. But leadership skills alone will not ensure his success. The first 100 days in a new role are understandably fraught with anticipation and anxiety. So it will be very easy for Deneve to get side tracked from his main strategic priorities. This is why a First 100 Days Plan is an invaluable tool during this stressful time. It is a way of keeping focused and on track to success. The plan should clearly lay out his specific objectives and aims, with the means to achieve them. With the aid of a detailed First 100 Days Plan Deneve can be more confident in remaining focused for a successful start, and future in his role.

Hilda Goold

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