Name: Katie Cotton
Short biography: In keeping with a well-known reputation for tight-lipped secrecy, it was quite difficult to find information about Katie Cotton. According to her Facebook profile, however, she went to high school at Warren Hills High School in Washington, New Jersey, and received a journalism degree in 1988 from the University of Arizona. Cotton currently lives in Atherton, California.1
What they do: Cotton is the vice president of worldwide corporate communications for Apple, Inc. Before Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away in October 2011, she was also Job’s “right-hand woman” and “gatekeeper.” As such, she was the stopping point for any information about Jobs—interviews, health queries, etc.—and “contribute[d] to product launches and reportedly, the upkeep of Apple and its CEO's appealing, yet enigmatic image.”2 Since Jobs passed, Cotton seems to be keeping up appearances for new CEO Tim Cook.
Why they matter: Cotton is the “voice” of Apple, even if that voice seems to be, for the most part, invisible. It’s her influence we have to thank for the mystery surrounding the Apple brand and the fact that all communications are now handled in-house.3 “With or without Jobs, Apple stubbornly refuses to conform to traditional communications norms, making a feature of its lack of openness that historically contributed to the mystique and air of exclusivity around the brand, as well as some frustration.”4 While she’s not specifically working with technology, she is at the communications helm of one of the largest and most well-known technology companies in the world. (And has serious chops when it comes to cultivating personal image.)
She did come under fire in 2008 for the secrecy, however, thanks to her calling Jobs’ health issues “a common bug.”5
Her other achievements and awards include:
- She was included in PR Week’s Power List 2012, 2011 and 2010.4
- She ranked at No. 50 on Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women list in 2011.6
How they got where they are: Cotton joined Apple in 2007.7 However, again—Cotton’s lack of Internet presence has foiled my attempts to find out more about her background. Here’s a photo of her with The Boss (a.k.a. Bruce Springsteen), which will hopefully make up for my fail.
References: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)