Hewlett-Packard has announced that Carleton (Carly) Fiorina was appointed to the role of president and chief executive officer. She will also join the HP board, the company said in a statement.
The appointment ends an almost five-month search to replace the 58-year old Lew Platt, who announced his intention to retire as HP's CEO amid a complete restructuring of the company.
"Carly was our first choice and the only candidate presented to the board," Lew Platt said in a teleconference in the US on Monday, which took place 36 hours after the 44-year old Fiorina had started at Hewlett-Packard, based in Palo Alto, California.
The computer and imaging-related parts of HP, of which Fiorina now takes charge, had revenue of $US39.5 billion in the 1998 fiscal year. According to plans revealed in March, HP's test and measurement business will be spun off into a separate company.
Fiorina most recently served two years as president of Lucent Technologies' Global Service Provider Business, which has annual revenue of more than $20 billion. She also spearheaded the planning and execution of Lucent's 1996 initial public offering and subsequent spin-off from AT&T Corp. Altogether Fiorina has nearly 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business working at Lucent and AT&T, and she was recently named by Fortune magazine the most powerful woman in American business.
The new CEO will spend her first weeks getting to know the HP operations, employees and customers, "getting my arms around all the challenges," Fiorina said, adding that she therefore will refrain for the time being from making pronouncements about any major changes, possible spin-offs and acquisitions.
However, Fiorina stressed the need for the company to reinvent itself. HP has clearly not been focused enough on speed. HP has "a great soul," she said, but also needs to reinvent itself when it comes to a sense of speed, sense of urgency and a competitive spirit - "the willingness to win."
She aims to make HP a major player in "the second chapter of the Internet." According to Fiorina, HP is already much deeper into Internet business than is perceived by those outside the company, and needs to raise awareness of that.
Fiorina praised the work done in that area by Ann Livermore, president and CEO of HP's Enterprise Computing Solutions business unit, who had been an internal candidate for the CEO position.
"We are very like-minded," Fiorina said.
She also stressed the need for HP to innovate and said that the company needed to leverage more of the work done in the HP Labs, "where we spend a lot of money." Fiorina would also be working on finding the right balance between centralisation and decentralisation.
The PC business, where margins have been dropping, is important to HP, according to Fiorina, who stressed that HP will continue working with the existing distribution channels.
Asked what she brings to HP, Fiorina listed her knowledge of how to grow high-tech businesses very rapidly and how to respond to customers, as well as understanding of the power of a brand and experience in the convergence of the communications and computer industries.
Lew Platt will remain chairman until year-end, at which time the split into two companies is expected to be accomplished. The position as chairman will not be taken over by Fiorina but by Richard (Dick) A. Hackborn. Hackborn retired as executive vice president at HP in 1993 and is a current member of the HP board of directors, as well as a director at Microsoft.
According to Fiorina it took some persuasion from her side to get 60-year old Hackborn to accept the position as a non-executive chairman, and "I can be pretty persuasive," she said.
Today HP has 123,000 employees worldwide and had a total revenue of $47.1 billion in 1998.