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'Working for Apple is like working for a cult'

A disgruntled ex-employee has gone on record about his dissatisfaction with working for the tech giant, and confidentiality agreements be damned.

Image: Yui Mok/PA

FORMER APPLE EMPLOYEE Ben Farrell has written a lengthy, detailed blog post explaining the reasons he quit the company. And he makes some worrying claims about the extreme demands made of Apple employees.

In his blog post, Farrell says that employees are expected to work ‘sixteen hour days’ which are then followed by ‘meetings after meetings followed by more meetings’.

Farrell worked at Apple in its Sydney office for over a year, and was employed as a quality program manager for Apple’s ‘AppleCare’ technical support program. But he says that his time at Apple was filled with ‘mind games’ inside an ‘iCult’.

It’s rare for Apple employees to comment on the record about their time inside Apple. They’re often given confidentiality agreements to sign, so it’s surprising that Farrell has spoken out with his real identity.

Ben Farrell2 Ben Farrell Source: Ben Farrell

Obviously Farrell’s experience isn’t representative of every Apple employee around the world. He’s clearly a disgruntled former employee, and his account sounds extreme, so it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. But we’ve seen Apple employees in the past speak out about similar experiences, especially the long hours staff put in.

Farrell claims that Apple gives ‘no respect’ to illnesses, family emergencies, or even weddings.

“I missed one business trip as my wife was pregnant, fell down the stairs and had to be hospitalised – this was listed as a ‘performance issue’ on my record and brought up during a one on one with management as a major ‘miss’ on my behalf,” he says.

Farrell claims that Apple made insane demands of his time. Meetings were often held at midnight, he says, and he was given a script and guided on what to say by his managers on instant message platforms.

Elsewhere in the blog post, Farrell says that he “contracted a nasty incapacitating mosquito born virus and was hospitalised for a short time. However, rather than receiving support, I was emailed a presentation to my hospital bed with a note that it needed to be completed ‘urgently’”

Even on the very morning of my wedding I was still being harassed by phone and email to send a report someone had lost.

It’s not just long hours that Farrell hits out at, though. He’s also critical of managers at Apple.

“Management were inconsistent, moody and erratic,” he writes.

“I would receive aggressive chats at all hours, and harassing texts every fifteen minutes asking ‘are you online? Your status shows you as away – are you there?’ I received rude voicemails on my phone when I was one minute late to a meeting.

Farrell says that he reached out to a ‘respected senior manager’ who told him that he had to put on his ‘big boy pants’ warning him that if he continued to complain they would have a ‘very different conversation’.

The culture that Farrell describes may seem far-fetched, but multiple former employees have spoken out about similar experiences. Apple’s former director of internet technologies Don Melton, and the former director of iOS Apps Nitin Ganatra both said in a podcast last year that their time at Apple was extremely demanding.

Sunday nights

“Sunday is a work night for everybody at Apple because it’s the executive meeting the next day. So you had your phone out there, you were sitting in front of your computer, it didn’t matter if your favourite show was on,” says Farrell.

You could count on the hour that ‘The Sopranos’ was on that Scott [Forstall] wouldn’t bug you ’cause he was watching it. And that was your reprieve. You could go to the bathroom, you could have a conversation with your family.

Apple iPhone Scott Forstall, former Apple senior vice president of iOS software. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Melton also mentions how Apple employees are expected to reply to emails around the clock.

If you forwarded something to one of your people at one o’clock in the morning and they didn’t reply promptly, you got a little annoyed at them…
When someone came into my office and said they wanna be a manager, I asked them, “How did you sleep last night?” And they said, “Oh, fairly well,” and I said, “Good, ’cause that’s the last good night’s sleep you’re gonna get.”

- James Cook

Read: Siri has got a New Zealand upgrade so Kiwis can safely ask for ‘six’

Read: Will large queues for Apple products be a thing of the past?

Published with permission from:

Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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