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商业 - 科技

苹果运营奇才浮出水面

JP Mangalindan 2011年09月16日

简单来说,他是让苹果公司维持运转的那个人。如果说蒂姆•库克曾经是乔布斯的左膀右臂,如今这个人则成了蒂姆•库克的左膀右臂。

    外观不能代表一切。诚然,苹果公司(Apple)的产品是工业设计领域不折不扣的典范;但无论是iPhone手机,还是iPad平板电脑,或是iMac电脑,如果无法按时生产、运输及交付,即使外观再时尚,也只是徒劳。目前,在苹果挑起运营大梁的,正是运营高级副总裁杰夫•威廉姆斯。

    现年48岁的威廉姆斯是苹果新任CEO蒂姆•库克手下最为信赖的得力干将之一,目前接管了此前由蒂姆•库克担任首席营运官时所承担的大部分工作。他管理着公司庞大的产品供应链及生产流程,其中也包括监管苹果公司与其供应商富士康(Foxconn)的关系,后者设在中国成都的生产基地为苹果生产iPad2平板电脑等产品。此外,威廉姆斯还负责与供应商的沟通与谈判,保障生产的顺利进行,并确保产品准确无误的准时运达目的地。此外,他还要降低成本,同时又确保不以牺牲产品质量为代价。

    与库克相似,威廉姆斯也是一名崇尚健康的自行车爱好者,是一位极其内敛低调的精英人士。据苹果公司内部传言,即使进入了公司管理层,他代步的座驾依然是一辆右后车门坏掉的破旧丰田汽车(Toyota)。认识的人都说他行事稳健、为人直率、循循善诱。员工遇到问题,他会和他们一起分析,告诉他们怎样才能做得更好、怎样才能继续前进。

    威廉姆斯毕业于美国北卡罗来纳州立大学(North Carolina State University)机械工程系。在校期间,他曾在北卡州格林斯博罗的创意领导力中心(Center for Creative Leadership)接受为期一周的培训。通过这个培训项目,他对自己的优缺点和交际能力有了全面的认识。这个培训项目对他影响深远:时至今日,他仍然坚持让苹果的中层管理人员参加类似课程。大学毕业后,他曾就职于IBM,并取得了杜克大学(Duke University)的在职MBA学位(库克也持有该学位,但两人的就读时间互不重叠)。1998年,威廉姆斯加盟苹果公司,担任全球采购总监。

    霍金斯说:“杰夫是个表里如一、言出必行的人。” 霍金斯是北卡州考德威尔伙伴计划(Caldwell Fellows program)的名誉理事,同时也是威廉姆斯的朋友。他的奖学金计划旨在大幅提升年轻人的领导能力。

    此外,威廉姆斯为苹果做了大量幕后工作,例如与海力士(Hynix)等供应商签订协议,预付约12.5亿美元的订金购买闪速存储器。此举对Nano音乐播放器的推出大有帮助。

    前苹果公司雇员史蒂夫•多尔曾是威廉姆斯所在运营团队的同事。他说,威廉姆斯还简化了iPod的配送流程。正因为如此,美国的消费者才得以在网上订购刻字版iPod,而从下订单到收货只需3个工作日。

    关注细节的特质有助于威廉姆斯未来事业的发展。作为苹果的CEO,蒂姆•库克有一位太过出色的前任;而对于杰夫•威廉姆斯来说,又何尝不是如此。

    译者:李淑玉/乔树静

    Looks aren't everything. Yes, Apple's devices are examples of uncompromising industrial design, but all the style in the world won't matter if that snazzy new iPhone, iPad, or iMac isn't manufactured, shipped, and delivered on time. And that's where Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations, comes in.

    One of new CEO Tim Cook's most trusted lieutenants, Williams, 48, essentially does a big chunk of what Cook did when he was chief operating officer. Williams manages the company's vast supply chain and production process, including overseeing Apple's relationship with supplier Foxconn, which churns out iPad 2 tablets and other fare from its facility in Chengdu, China. He negotiates supplier deals, keeps production going, and makes sure devices get where they need to be, when they need to be there -- all while keeping costs down and without sacrificing quality.

    A health-minded cyclist (like Cook), Williams is known as an intensely private, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. According to Apple lore he drove around in a beat-up Toyota with a broken passenger-side door even after he was appointed to management. Those who know him say he's even-keeled and direct, a good coach who will go over a problem with employees, explain what they need to do better, and move on.

    As a mechanical engineering major at North Carolina State University, Williams spent a week in a training program at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. There he examined his strengths, weaknesses, and interactions with others. The program left a lasting impression: He now sends Apple (AAPL) middle managers to similar courses. After college, he worked at IBM (IBM) and picked up an MBA from the same Duke University evening program as Cook. (The two didn't overlap.) He joined Apple in 1998 as head of worldwide procurement.

    "With Jeff, what you see is what you get," says Gerald Hawkins, director emeritus of the Caldwell Fellows program at North Carolina State and a friend of Williams's. "And if he said he was going to do something, well, he'd do it."

    Williams has done a lot for Apple, all of it behind the scenes, such as his work on a deal to prepay suppliers like Hynix some $1.25 billion for flash memory, a move that helped Apple launch the Nano.

    He also worked on ways to streamline the iPod delivery process, says Steve Doil, an ex-Apple employee who worked with Williams in the operations group. That explains why U.S. consumers can go online, buy an iPod, have it engraved, and receive it within three business days from start to finish.

    His attention to the small stuff will serve him well in the years to come. Because, while Cook may have some pretty big shoes to fill, so does Williams.

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