Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tough choices - a memoir by Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, the ex-CEO of HP, finally ends her silence and comes up with this book. For anyone who remembers how she was ousted in early 2005, it's been a book that we have waited to read.

Fiorina was hired in 1999 to turn around HP which was losing its glory. Fiorina was responsible for many changes in 6 years of her tenure at HP. She changed the organization and acquired Compaq. She had many tough moments. Especially when a portion of board led by Bill Hewlett challenged Compaq acquisition. She won the nasty proxy battle that followed and completed the acquisition.

Good portion of the book is devoted to Fiorina's early career and how she rose up to become an EVP at Lucent before becoming CEO of HP. Fiorina spent 20+ years at AT&T, Lucent among other plethora of avatars of Big Bell. She rapidly advanced in  sales line and in the late 80s considered to be one of the most powerful women in the business. Time, Fortune etc. ran cover stories on her.

Fiorina was always mentioned for her marketing blitz, media savvy, general attractiveness and strategy. She was never recognized for her operational excellence which was not her forte any way. In this book she stresses operation excellence so much so that it's hard to believe people let her go because she wouldn't hire a COO to manage day to day operations letting her focus on strategy.

A faction in HP board which was extremely technical also could not get along with her well. They were suggesting acquiring several companies and Fiorina would not do that. One thing lead to another and in 2005, she was fired without right protocol or respect.

She departed with 50+ million dollars in severance.

Nice book.

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