The New York Times has written a nice profile of Tim Cook, who is once again sliding into the driver's seat at Apple while Steve Jobs takes medical leave. To hear the paper tell it, Cook is both a man well-prepared to fill Jobs' role if needed, and yet not exactly the creative visionary Jobs has become. While Jobs runs the company with a wide-ranging vision for products and how they're used, Cook is the details man -- a master of spreadsheets, factory dealings, supply chains and efficiency.
Cook previously worked at both IBM and Compaq, and in this commencement speech at Auburn University last year (embedded after the break), he says that moving over to Apple was "the best decision I ever made." He says that lots of the conventional wisdom he heard at the time told him not to bother joining Apple -- the company was a shell of its former self, and the iPod hadn't yet materialized. But his intuition told him to join up to "work for the creative genius and to be on the executive team that could resurrect a great American company," and he says that "no more than 5 minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple."
If Jobs does have to step down permanently, odds are that Cook is the man that will take the CEO job. And while Apple will never be the same without Steve Jobs, Tim Cook's clearly dedicated to the company he took a chance on over a decade ago.