Apple is to cut its board of directors down from seven to six after its Annual Shareholders Meeting, to be held on April 20. Board member Edgar J Woolard will resign his seat on the board - held since 1996 - following the meeting, for "personal reasons". A friend of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Woolard was instrumental in the sacking of Jobs' predecessor Gil Amelio.

Woolard was recommended to Amelio as an Apple board member by PR man Harold Burson. In his book ' On the firing line: My 500 days at Apple', former boss Amelio describes 'laid back' Woolard as "over six feet tall and slender" with a "very comforting 'Southern gentleman' manner and a boyish charm". In his book, 'Infinite Loop', however, Michael S Malone calls Woolard a "fire-breather".

When Woolard was a member of IBM's board of directors, he ran into problems with CEO Lou Gerstner - who didn't want the board to make decisions, according to Woolard. Woolard quit after this disagreement.

Woolard vs Amelio Amelio saw Woolard's belief in "making a plan, announcing the plan, and sticking to it" as his own moment for a Gerstner-like falling out. Amelio wrote: "The adaptations and swift-footed changes required in high-tech were essentially foreign to his method of management".

Woolard pressed Amelio to announce that Apple would return to profit by the winter of 1997 - a decision that possibly cost Amelio his job as Apple CEO just months after that profit failed to materialize.

When Amelio told Woolard that the promised profits would not, in fact, be hitting Apple coffers, the man who'd made him make that claim turned on him: "You've taken a public position on the break-even, and now you're going to have to come up with a new forecast".

Despite the folly of the first statement, Woolard and Apple CFO Fred Anderson persuaded Amelio to announce a new forecast, that summer 1997 would see Apple go into the black. This time, the failure was certainly terminal to Amelio's position as Apple boss - not helped by Ed Woolard's new friend, a certain Steve Jobs.

When Amelio refused to hand day-to-day running of Apple over to Anderson, he believes that Woolard went running to Jobs. As Amelio wrote: "things were unfolding exactly as Steve must have wanted".

Woolard continued to attack Amelio: "How can you continue to be a leader if you're not credible?".

Woolard and Jobs ace Amelio Woolard and his wife, Peggy, are both avid tennis lovers, travelling the world to see all the top matches. And it was while attending the 1997 Wimbledon tennis tournament, that Woolard called Amelio with the news that the board wanted the beleaguered boss to "step down".

"We want to find a CEO who can be a great marketing and sales leader for the company," explained Woolard.

Amelio demanded to know who else was in on the decision to ask for his resignation. Woolard confirmed his fears: "Oh... Steve Jobs knows. Steve was one of the people we talked to about this. His view is that you're a really nice guy, but you don't really know much about the computer industry."

Off board, on committee Woolard currently sits on Apple's compensation committee, deciding salaries and bonuses for executive officers and management-level employees of the company.

Woolard also recently resigned his seat on the board of E I DuPont de Nemours and is still a board member of Citigroup, the insurance, banking and financial advice company. As CEO at DuPont he was responsible for selling-off $1.8 billion worth of assets and laying-off 40,000 employees.

More Woolard than strictly necessary Born in Washington, N.C., in 1934, Woolard received a B.S. in industrial engineering from North Carolina State University. He and his wife, Peggy, have two daughters, Annette and Lynda, and reside in Jupiter, Florida.

Woolard began his 41-year career with DuPont in 1957 as an industrial engineer. Following a series of management assignments in manufacturing, Woolard was named director of the company's products marketing division in 1973. He transferred to the company's textile fibres department in 1977 as general director of the products and planning division and then, in 1981 became vice president-textile fibres. He was named executive vice president and elected to the board of directors in 1983, vice chairman in 1985, chief operating officer in 1987, and became chairman and CEO in 1989. He retired as CEO in 1995, and as chairman of the board of directors in 1997. He remains a director.

Woolard is also a member of The Business Council, a member of the Board of Trustees of Winterthur Museum, the Christiana Care Corporation, the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, and the North Carolina Textile Foundation, Inc. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Bretton Woods Committee.

In 1998 Woolard won the Chemical Industry Medal awarded by The Society of Chemical Industry, founded in London in 1881 to foster applied chemistry in all its branches and facilitate the exchange of ideas. One of the industry's most prestigious awards, the gold medal recognized Woolard's outstanding business leadership and work in the areas of environmental stewardship that have enhanced the progress and performance of the entire industry.