Tim Cook kept saying ‘trust me’: Why Angela Ahrendts left Burberry for Apple

When it was announced in 2013 that Angela Ahrendts would leave her long-time role as chief executive of Burberry to run Apple's stores, the fashion label's shares went down 5.5 percent.

Today, Ahrendts admitted to doubts about the job opportunity at Apple. "It was funny … I fought joining Apple, because I thought I had the greatest job on the planet and we were flying, and life was incredible but it was the culture that we had built and the values of the team at Burberry that was so brilliant. (But Apple CEO) Tim (Cook) kept saying 'trust me, trust me'," she said, addressing an audience at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France on Wednesday.

But the draw of Apple's stores convinced her to accept the role as senior vice president of retail.

Apple employees in Berlin.
Getty Images
Apple employees in Berlin.

"You guys have been to Apple stores, you feel that energy and the values at Apple of the store teams and the loyalty and the tenure. The company's values are aligned with my values and when you have that (you think) 'let's go.'"

Ahrendts added that she was brought up to be herself. "I was raised to use your instincts. My parents would say, what are your God given gifts, what do you love to do, and my dad was an avid reader and he would always say to thyself be true, and be your authentic self. Be who you are. I don't care how old I am, I don't ever want to forget where I came from," she told the audience.

Diversity and inclusion are hot topics at the Cannes Lions event this year. Asked by colleague Tor Myhren, Apple's vice president of marketing communications, what advice she would have for young women starting their careers, Ahrendts said they should listen to their gut.

"To young girls: to thyself be true. And use your instincts, and don't let anybody ever tell you that you can't, you shouldn't ... Not in this day and age."

Ahrendts has said she thinks of the tech company's stores as "town squares," due to initiatives such as "Today at Apple," which runs sessions each day on topics such as taking video with an iPhone to how to run a business. "It has to serve a bigger purpose than just sell," she told the audience at Cannes.

The company is set to open new stores in Milan, on the Champs Elysees in Paris and inside the former Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., in the coming months.