Apple has a new leader in China.
The company has appointed Isabel Ge Mahe, its vice president of wireless technologies, to the role of managing director of Greater China. In her role, Ge Mahe will report to CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams.
Ge Mahe has been in charge of Apple’s wireless technologies software engineering teams for the past nine years. In that role, which Ge Mahe will retain, she has worked on developing wireless communication technologies, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, for “nearly every Apple product,” the company said in a statement. She has also led the engineering teams for Apple’s mobile platform service Apple Pay, among others.
Ge Mahe, who was born in China and is fluent in Mandarin, “will provide leadership and coordination across Apple’s China-based team,” the company said in a statement. Apple didn’t elaborate on exactly what she will do in the position.
Regardless, it’s a critical position. Apple’s (AAPL) Greater China division, which was once its biggest, has watched revenue plummet in recent quarters. During Apple’s first fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2016, for instance, China sales were down 12% year-over-year. It was followed by a 14% year-over-year decline in Apple’s fiscal second quarter ended April 1.
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The Chinese market has stood in stark contrast to Apple’s other operating segments, including the Americas, Europe, and Japan, which have all seen revenue rise year-over-year in recent quarters. Whereas Apple’s Greater China division accounted for about 24% of Apple’s revenue in the company’s 2016 fiscal second quarter, that fell to 20% during the same period in 2017.
Shareholders haven’t missed Apple’s China troubles and have questioned the company’s CEO Tim Cook on what his plans are for the country. Each time he answers such a question, Cook has said Apple remains committed to the massive market.
Even in a statement on Wednesday announcing Ge Mahe’s appointment, Cook said that “Apple is strongly committed to invest and grow in China.” Only after that did he mention Ge Mahe.
Looking ahead, Cook said Apple will make “even greater contributions” under Ge Mahe.
According to Apple, Ge Mahe will formally take her role “later this summer.” She will be based in Shanghai.