In August 2011, Tim Cook took the job as CEO of Apple, leaving many wondering if he could fill the shoes left by his friend and mentor, Steve Jobs.
Today, Apple is the most valuable company in the world, and products like the iPhone continue to rule the market, leaving Cook looking pretty good.
But when he was first announced for the role, he was a big question mark. He had come out of seemingly nowhere to lead such a big, important company.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Apple would never have gotten where it is without Cook’s help early on in Jobs’ reign.
Here’s how Tim Cook rose through the ranks and became Apple’s CEO.
Timothy Donald Cook was born in Mobile, Alabama, on November 1, 1960. He grew up in nearby Robertsdale, where he went to high school.
In 1982, right out of Auburn, Cook joined IBM in its still new PC division -- before Microsoft Windows was even a thing. He'd rise to become the director of North American fulfillment.
In 1996, Cook was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis, something he says made him view the world in a different way. Since then, he's been a big contributor to charity, and even does bike races for good causes.
It turns out the diagnosis was just because he'd been lugging around too much baggage -- literally.
Twelve years later, he left IBM and jumped into a COO role at a company called Intelligent Electronics. In 1997, he eventually landed as a vice president of corporate materials at Compaq, then one of the hottest PC manufacturers around.
Meanwhile, Steve Jobs had just come into power as Apple's CEO, following the ouster of Gil Amelio. Jobs had the tough job of turning around Apple after many years of fading relevance, and went looking for fresh blood for his executive team.
So Jobs approached Cook, identifying him as a strong prospect for his new Apple. Cook signed on to Apple in an initial role as the SVP of worldwide operations.
Cook would later describe their meeting:
Any purely rational consideration of cost and benefits lined up in Compaq's favour, and the people who knew me best advised me to stay at Compaq ... On that day in early 1998 I listened to my intuition, not the left side of my brain or for that matter even the people who knew me best ... no more than five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple. My intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius, and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company.
It must have been a difficult decision for Jobs. In 1997, Apple was an industry laughingstock: Michael Dell, one of Microsoft's closest partners, once said that if he were in Jobs' shoes, 'I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.'
One of Cook's biggest early coups was closing Apple's own factories and warehouses and replacing them with contract manufacturers, meaning that devices could be made in larger quantities and get delivered faster.
Tim Cook once said of his role: 'You kind of want to manage it like you're in the dairy business. If it gets past its freshness date, you have a problem.'