Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Carly Fiorina : Antibody Effect ?

on NYTimes

"You had an antibody effect," said Jeffrey Christian, the executive recruiter who helped bring Ms. Fiorina from Lucent Technologies. "Carly was a very different type of leader than H.P. had ever had before."

Where Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard frequently ate in the company cafeteria and stopped by people's desks to chat, Ms. Fiorina ate at her desk and was seen far less frequently by those working at company headquarters here. Indeed, an employee would typically have had to plan weeks ahead to secure an appointment with her.

Yet from the start she seemed to trample over tradition, beginning with the compensation package she negotiated. She was given a $3 million signing bonus and a stock package worth $65 million, Mr. Burrows said, and paid at least $2.25 million a year in salary and guaranteed bonuses. (The $65 million in part offset the stock options and other benefits she would lose after 19 years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies, the equipment and research arm of the Bell system that was spun off in 1996.)

and by almost all accounts, Hewlett-Packard was a company in need of an overhaul when Ms. Fiorina took the helm in July 1999. Still, some longtime employees said they thought that she failed to understand what she had set out to transform.

"When you're going to change something, it's really important to know what you're changing," said Joe Schoendorf, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was a top salesman for the company in the 1980's.

"In those ads," Professor Khurana said, "she stood in front of the original garage where Hewlett-Packard was founded and put herself forward as the face of innovation and change at H.P. She also decided to change the H.P. logo, dropping the founders' last names. I think people saw this as her trying to make H.P. in her own image, which didn't go over too well."

Mr. Burrows said that the company had an Web internal site for people to post comments, but "they were forced to turn it off because people were flaming her so much."

Yet whatever animosity Ms. Fiorina engendered in her first couple of years, it was nothing compared with the firestorm that followed her decision to buy Compaq Computer in 2001. Not only did that mean a public and bruising battle with Walter B. Hewlett, the son of a founder and the largest individual shareholder, but also a planned layoff of 15,000 people.

"After the merger, the walls went up and she took on a fortress mentality," an employee said. "She was even booed in an annual meeting."

Hewlett-Packard had long been on Fortune magazine's annual list of the 100 best companies to work for. It has failed to make the list in the last several years.

....... Around that time, she fired three top three executives in what many people in and outside the company saw as a public hanging. In particular, the loss of Peter Blackmore, a top sales executive, rankled many longtime employees.

"Peter was one of most highly regarded executives inside H.P.," Mr. Tennant said. "She should have at least made it clear and said, 'We're replacing these guys, but I take ultimate responsibility. Ultimately, the buck stops with me.' "

"The board expressly said that the culture needed to be changed, but when she started messing with H.P.'s culture, people didn't like that."

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