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Apple Loses Senior Machine Learning Director Over Return to Office Policy
Ian Goodfellow, a Director of Machine Learning in Apple’s Special Projects Group, has reportedly left the tech giant because of its return-to-office policy.
Editorial credit: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com
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2 minute read

Ian Goodfellow, a Director of Machine Learning in Apple’s Special Projects Group, has reportedly left the tech giant because of its return-to-office policy.

While Goodfellow isn’t the highest-ranking member of his department, he was likely the company’s most cited machine learning expert, according to The Verge’s Zoë Schiffer, who first broke the story.

Goodfellow had been with Apple since March 2019 and joined the Cupertino-based company after stints as a Research Scientist at Google and OpenAI.

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The tech mind’s departure appears to be linked to Apple’s return-to-office policy, which required workers to show up in the office at least one day a week beginning April 11, but has gradually ramped up. On May 2, the iPhone maker bumped its minimum number of days in-office to at least two days per week, and that number will jump to three days per week later this month.

“I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” Goodfellow reportedly stated in a note to his staff.

Goodfellow isn’t alone in his aversion to returning to a physical office, as 76% of the 652 Apple workers surveyed by anonymous social network Blind between April 13 to 19 said they were dissatisfied with Apple efforts to get employees back to its offices.

Blind director of public relations Rick Chen described its users as “overwhelmingly corporate workers in engineering or product roles.”

Apple employees aren’t just griping about the return to HQ in anonymous forums. They have also published a formal letter detailing their complaints to company leadership, stating that the policy doesn't “recognize flexible work” and is “driven by fear.”

Goodfellow’s high-profile defection from Apple could spark even more departures as knowledge workers look to retain their at-home work setups. Blind’s study also found that 56% of Apple employees claimed they are looking to leave Apple because of its stringent return-to-office policy.

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