Role Models & Heroes: Tim Cook (2018)

By November 10, 2018 June 20th, 2019 Bnei Mitzvah, Heroes & Role Models
The following essay on role model Tim Cook was written by Benjamin O’Connor, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

When I asked Google what a role model was, it told me this: a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated. I then started thinking about the role models in my life. I quickly came to Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple. While I don’t view him as a hero because he hasn’t run into a burning building to save lives yet, I do view him as a role model who I look up to and would to like to emulate in many respects.

Timothy Donald Cook was born on November 2, 1960 in Robertsdale, Alabama. He was the middle of two other brothers. His mother, Geraldine, was a pharmacy worker and his dad, Donald, was a shipyard worker. Tim Cook went to Robertsdale High School and he was considered a friendly and hardworking student there. It was hard to find out much about his early childhood.

When Tim was 16, he had the opportunity to meet both Governor George Wallace of Alabama and President Jimmy Carter in the same week. He was struck by how different two men with similar backgrounds could be, which strengthened his sense of his own values. It is not surprising that his heroes are Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. because they stood up for civil rights. In addition, because he grew up in the south, he saw discrimination firsthand and it had a strong impact on his view of the world. He proceeded to get a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke University.

Tim started his career with IBM, and he spent 12 years there. While there he progressed to become the head of shipping and manufacturing. After that he was the COO of the reseller division of Intelligent Electronics, and he spent half a year at Compaq (now owned by Hewlett Packard), as the head of inventory management. Then he interviewed with Steve Jobs.

When Tim Cook met Steve Jobs, he knew that they would work perfectly together. When asked by Steve Jobs to join a great but failing company that had lost $1 billion in the previous year, Tim Cook said yes even though his colleagues at Compaq told him to stay away. When Cook started at Apple in 1998, it was a wreck. Jobs had recently been rehired by Apple and was then the CEO there. From 1998 to 2002, Tim Cook was the Senior Vice President of Apple’s worldwide operations. He was responsible for moving to contract manufacturing, closing factories and warehouses, reducing inventory, and investing more in flash storage which made its debut on the iPod Nano and which is on most Apple devices today. Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple’s profits soared. In 2005 he was promoted to COO and he stayed in that position until 2011.

Right before Jobs died, Cook was made CEO of Apple. Many people doubted his capacity to lead Apple, especially following in the footsteps of such a charismatic leader as Steve Jobs. However, Tim Cook has proven himself a very strong leader of the company. He managed massive growth at Apple including the launch of new products such as the iPad Mini, iPhone X, Apple Watch 3 and the MacBook Pro. Cook had some large shoes to fill because Steve Jobs was considered a creative genius. Tim Cook is brilliant in different ways than Jobs. He took some important steps after Jobs died to preserve the culture at Apple such as maintaining the rhetoric about marrying tech with life. In addition, he retained key staff who had been there with Jobs. Cook took a strong stance against competitors who tried to copy Apple. Finally, the most important thing he did for Apple was keeping it alive and thriving.

Cook has had some other innovations that are not related to products. These innovations include making working conditions better at Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturing contractor in China, creating an employee matching gift program, and using clean energy to power almost all of Apple’s facilities.

What do we know about Tim Cook’s personal life and values? Actually, not very much, as he is an intensely private person. Here are a few details that I found. I know that he wakes up at 3:45 AM and goes to bed at 8:45 PM, he is serious about fitness and enjoys hiking and biking in his free time. He is a serious workaholic who gets to the office early and leaves late. He is considered nice and friendly at Apple by its employees, but he doesn’t seem to have many close friends. He openly supports issues that he cares about, including gay rights, anti-gun violence and the environment.

Cook also believes that companies should have values. Here are a few of Apple’s values as a company. Apple believes in renewable energy, with 96 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources. Tim Cook defends the practice of putting issues like accessibility, environmental protection and worker safety above return on investment. Apple also believes in anti-violence and they even switched their gun emoji to a water gun emoji. Finally, Apple believes in directness. They showed this when they apologized for the dismal performance of Apple Maps when it first came out.

I chose Tim Cook as my role model because I think that our values line up.  First, we both are very interested in technology. We both also want to stop climate change and have a greener future. Additionally, we believe in directness. Lastly, we share the value of generosity. As my role model, Tim Cook inspires me to develop great organizational skills, commitment to work, and capacity to work long hours. Cook is also well respected and liked by his colleagues, and I hope I can be similarly respected. If I could be only half as successful as Tim Cook has been in his work life, I would be very happy. Finally, Tim Cook has the courage to stand up for the rights he believes in, and I hope to do more of that when I get to be an adult.