Apple's Software Taskmaster Faces Tough Test

At Apple, it’s the time of year when software engineers race to finalize the features that will make it into the latest version of the iPhone software. That means it’s crunch time for Kim Vorrath.

Ms. Vorrath, who has been at Apple since 1987, has hardly any public profile. But internally, she’s well-known as the occasionally short-tempered field marshall who rules on which features make it into a release and which stay out. As the vice president in charge of “program management” for iOS and OS X, she’s charged with making sure all the software development teams meet their deadlines and for supervising the rigorous testing that keeps bugs out.

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While Mr. Forstall was known for being confident and self-assured during his presentations at the all-hands, Ms. Vorrath tended to be more matter-of-fact in front of a big group, former employees say. For all her authority, she didn’t seem to enjoy the limelight.


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During a tense time before the first release of iOS software in 2007, Ms. Vorrath grew irate when a colleague was heading home early before another marathon weekend meeting. She slammed her office door so hard that the door knob broke, and she locked herself in. Mr. Forstall grabbed a baseball bat to try to break her out.