Friday, October 17, 2014

Admiring Meg Whitman (Now) as HP CEO

Before arriving at eBay in 1998, Meg Whitman actively moved her career along:
  • Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble
  • Management Consultant, then Senior Vice President at Bain & Co.
  • Vice President of Strategic Planning at The Walt Disney Co.
  • President at Stride Rite Corp.
  • President and CEO at FTD
  • General Manager of Playskool Division at Hasbro
Whitman chose to lead the enterprise side of the HP split, because she had mainly worked on the consumer side in these previous posts.  Even though she and interviewer Pattie Sellers gloss over this point, I think it's a pivotal choice for her.  To do something she hadn't done much before, at the highest level and for a multibillion dollar company speaks volumes about what jazzes her and where her confidence lies.

Much as Sellers amplified the corporate reversal from HP works better together in 2011, when Whitman became CEO, to now as HP splits into two giant companies, there really is no reversal.  Politicians may be marked by going back on their word, but this is no political campaign or office.  HP was bleeding ($12.5 billion of debt) three years ago, and now has healed ($4.7 billion of cash).  So the split is simply part of the turnaround and evolution of HP.

Sellers: How do you respond to that [i.e. competitive jab from Dell]?

Whitman: I'm shocked, shocked!  [Audience breaks into laughter.]  The competitor would say something?  Shocked!

To wit:
In May 2013, Bloomberg named Whitman "Most Underachieving CEO" among big-company CEOs whose stocks have turned in the worst numbers relative to the broader market since the beginning of each CEO's tenure. HP's stock led the list by underperforming by 30 percentage points since Whitman took the job.
Reference: Meg Whitman.


You go, Meg Whitman!

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