--Most Powerful Women
Ahrendts was already having a banner year as the CEO of British fashion house Burberry. The stock was up 29%, vs. the FTSE 100's 10%, despite fears of a slowdown in greater China and continued ennui in Europe -- when she shocked the luxury and tech worlds with news that she was decamping to Cupertino, Calif., to head up Apple's retail and online stores. Ahrendts takes the reins in 2014, and she will oversee an operation with some $20 billion in annual sales (compared with Burberry's $3.2 billion). Analysts expect that she will play a role in helping define Apple's future, especially as technology companies move into new areas, such as "wearables" like Internet-connected watches, eyewear, and other gadgets that are in desperate need of a style makeover. (Ahrendts is credited with helping bring a more youthful image to the 157-year-old trench-coat maker.) Ahrendts's new role makes her the top woman exec at the house that Jobs built, and her success, while critical to Apple's future, will be no easy feat. The last executive to head up the tech giant's retail operations was out after less than a year. If she pulls it off, Ahrendts could be a strong contender for the top job.