Tim Cook helped transform Apple from a has-been to the world's second most valuable company. Now the all-star executive has punched his ticket to become the company's next CEO.  (Source: Monica M. Davey/EPA/Corbis)

Tim Cook, showing off a Macbook Air at a 2010 press event is a reserved figure, but has helped Apple become a leader in profit margins. He has negotiated industry leading long term contracts with top components suppliers.  (Source: Getty Images)

Mr. Cook must now lead the company into the future as CEO -- because this time, it sounds like Mr. Jobs' resignation is permanent.
Mr. Cook, much like Steve Jobs, is a tireless workaholic with a thirst for excellence

With the shock of the news that Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) long time CEO and company co-founder, Steven P. Jobs, was abruptly resigning from his current position, attention has turned to his anointed successor, Timothy "Tim" D. Cook.

I. Early History

Mr. Cook, age 50, was born in Robertsdale, Alabama to a shipyard worker.  As a young man he earned a bachelor of science degree from Auburn University in industrial engineering in 1982.  Two years later he became International Business Machines Corp.'s (IBM) director of North American Fulfillment.

As he honed his supplies and procurement skills, he also solidified his business expertise, obtaining a master in business administration from Duke University in 1988.  In 1994 he left IBM to become chief operating officer at Intelligent Electronics, a value-plus computer reseller with close ties to Apple. 

A misdiagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 1996 helped Mr. Cook "see the world in a different way", so while he spent much time in the office, he also took care of his health being a "fitness nut in the gym by 5 AM." He would soon be in for another shock as forces outside his control conspired to fracture the IE's multi-billion dollar empire in 1997.

After a brief six month stint at Compaq, Mr Cook was reportedly personally hunted down by Steve Jobs and wooed into returning to Apple, a year after Mr. Jobs returned to the company as CEO.

II. Rise at Apple

A part of the new look Apple, Mr. Cook served as Worldwide Operations Senior Vice President.  In the position he helped to turn around the struggling veteran, spearheading efforts to phase out Apple's manufacturing capacity.  

About a decade ago he also helped procure contracts with flash memory manufacturers, which helped make Apple Inc.'s iPod series remain the best-selling MP3 player on the market, a success that gave Apple the capital it needed to launch other best-selling platforms like the iPhone and iPad.

Steve Jobs always respected Mr. Cook, seeing in him many of his own traits -- including a tireless devotion to the company and refusal to accept the status quo.  He reportedly survived the hectic life of an Apple executive on "an endless series of energy bars" and took pride in "being first into the office and the last one out".

Speaking of out, Mr. Cook's sexuality was long the subject of speculation as he'd never been married and close confidants reportedly said he was gay.  Mr. Cook has never officially acknowledged these rumors, despite reports that Apple's management would be supportive of him, should he choose to acknowledge his sexual orientation publicly.  If he is indeed gay, Mr. Cook is more like brilliant reserved gay computer scientist Alan Turing, than the colorful MTV characters today's public knows the orientation by.

In 2004 Mr. Cook was selected out of several elite executives to take over as chief executive officer for two months, while Mr. Jobs underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer.  The period passed without any major issues, and soon Mr. Jobs was back at the helm.

In 2007 Mr. Cook was appointed to COO of Apple.  Then in 2009 he was yet again plugged to be CEO for several months as Mr. Jobs took a medical leave to receive a liver transplant due to complications from his battle with cancer.

III. The Future

A recovered Mr. Jobs was back on the job as CEO, but it proved short-lived.  The wording of Mr. Jobs' recent letter indicated that this may not be another temporary assignment -- Mr. Cook has been designated as Mr. Jobs' successor.

Six years the elder, Mr. Jobs writes, "As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple."

Now it's up to Mr. Cook to decide where to take the company, which is currently the second most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization and is number #1 in the tablet market, #3 in the U.S. PC market, #2 in the smart phone OS maker, #1 in the digital media market, and #1 in the dwindling MP3 player market, as well.

Mr. Cook has his work cut out for him -- particularly in transforming himself into more of a public figure.  While Steve Jobs has relished the limelight and served as ringmaster at many a flash product launch, Mr. Cook is more reserved.  Business should be a no brainer for Mr. Cook, but proclaiming the "magic" of Apple's wares?  That might take some effort.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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