A look at Tim Cook, the man replacing Steve Jobs

The man tapped as Apple's new CEO has served as Apple's COO for seven years and filled in for Steve Jobs during three medical leaves of absence.

New Apple CEO Tim Cook sitting at Steve Jobs' right at an event in 2007. James Martin/CNET

Tim Cook, the man named to replace Steve Jobs as Apple's chief executive, already has extensive experience running the company.

Cook, who has served as Apple's chief operating officer for seven years, was named as its new chief executive today with the resignation of Jobs , the iconic co-founder of the company. Cook, long considered a front-runner to replace Jobs, has filled in for Jobs during his three medical leaves of absence.

"The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO," Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech, said in a statement on behalf of Apple's board.

Cook, 50, joined Apple in 1998 as a senior vice president of worldwide operations and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2004. Before joining Apple, Cook briefly served as an executive at Compaq and spent 12 years at IBM, where he ran manufacturing and operations for the company's PC business. Cook earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke.

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Cook is credited with completely restructuring Apple's manufacturing operations, insisting that Apple shut down its overseas factories and farm out the work to third-party manufacturers. As a result, the company reduced inventory and improved margins on its entire product lineup.

Described as a private but demanding man, Cook reportedly called a meeting early in his tenure at the company to discuss a problem in Asia.

"This is really bad," Cook told those assembled, according to a Fortune report. "Someone should be in China driving this." About 30 minutes later, he looked at a key executive and abruptly asked, "Why are you still here?"

That executive immediately stood, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and booked a flight to China--without a change of clothes or a return ticket.

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Cook's profile has grown steadily in the last few years. He has served as Jobs' right-hand man at shareholder events and has completely handled earnings calls with analysts for last few years. Recently, he has played a more prominent role at product launches.

While Jobs was on medical leave from January 2009 to June 2009, Apple delivered two back-to-back blow-out quarters, as well as an updated iPhone OS, and new iPhone 3GS hardware. Under Cook, Apple also put the finishing touches on the company's new iPods, MacBooks, and Mac OS, which were released shortly after Jobs' return to the helm in late June.

For his performance, Apple's board rewarded Cook with a $5 million bonus , as well as 75,000 restricted stock units as a thank you for "his outstanding performance."

Cook was first called on to fill in for Jobs in 2004, running the company's day-to-day operations for a few months while Jobs recovered from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas and when Jobs had a liver transplant in 2009.

The topic of executive succession came up earlier this year when Jobs left on his third medical leave. A shareholder proposal called on the company to disclose a succession plan, and Apple's board of directors was reportedly talking with outside headhunters .

Besides Cook, the group of reported in-house candidates for the position included Phil Schiller, head of marketing, who hones Apple's sales pitch; CFO Peter Oppenheimer, who manages Apple's bottom line; and Jonathan Ive, Jobs' design guru.

You can see Tim Cook at work in the video below, as Cook took the lead when Apple's Verizon iPhone was announced in January.

Former CNET reporter Erica Ogg contributed to this report.

 

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