CUPERTINO (AP) — One of the most trusted advisers to late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is retiring from the iPhone maker’s board of directors.
Bill Campbell’s departure after 17 years on Apple Inc.’s board cleared the way for the company to appoint Susan Wagner, a founding partner of money manager BlackRock, as a director.
The changes announced Thursday come against a backdrop of criticism about a shortage of women in key positions at major technology companies.
Wagner becomes the second woman on Apple’s eight-person board. Andrea Jung, the former CEO of Avon Products Inc., has been on Apple’s board since 2008.
Campbell, 73, worked in marketing as an Apple executive in the 1980s and joined the board in 1997 shortly after Jobs returned as the company’s CEO.
At the time, Apple was flirting with bankruptcy. Campbell frequently served as Jobs’ sounding board during one of the most resounding corporate turnarounds in U.S. history as Apple first redesigned its Mac computer line and then rolled out the iPod, iPhone and iPad to emerge as the world most valuable company.
“Bill’s contributions to Apple are immeasurable and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO.
Jobs died in October 2011 after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer, a problem that Campbell and Apple’s other directors decided to conceal initially even when Jobs took a leave of absence as CEO.
“Working with Steve and Tim has been a joy,” said Campbell. “The company today is in the best shape that I have seen it, and Tim’s leadership of his strong team will allow Apple to continue to be great going forward.”
Besides advising Jobs, Campbell also has counseled many other Silicon Valley executives, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin along with the company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.
Wagner brings a financial background that could help Apple make more acquisitions. The Cupertino, California, company just bought headphone maker and streaming music provider Beats Electronics for $3 billion, the most expensive deal in the company’s 38-year history.
Although she remains on BlackRock’s board, Wagner retired as an executive at the firm two years ago.