Carol Fiorina, ex-CEO of HP was the CEO of HP from 1999 to 2005. This was a very crucial period for HP because during this period HP survived the Dot com crash, implemented amazing cost cutting strategies in the operations and made one of the biggest acquisition, the $19 Billion Compaq acquisition.
During her tenure as the CEO of HP she initiated the Compaq acquisition deal. Compaq was on of the largest computer manufacturer and a direct rival of HP is the computer systems business. Many people in the board were against this deal like Walter Hewlett, who is the son of the co founder. They were of the opinion that competing in the computer business with the industry king DELL will result in HP to loose the printer business as well. Printer business was one of the strengths of HP. Under Carol Fiorina leadership the HP printer business went on to sell 47 million printer while DELL was only able to sell 5 million printers.
Carol Fiorina was responsible for bringing HP in the digital age and following the true HP way of running business. During the post Dot-com period, there was no growth in the computer systems business. Every major computer systems company like Sun Microsystems Inc. was reporting losses but HP was made its way by effective cost cutting method. After the acquisition of Compaq, Carol Fiorina removed 10000 jobs out of the total 150,000, and cut more than $3.5 Billion in costs. This shows that Carol was effective as an operations manager as well as the CEO. Carol wanted to prepare HP to compete with Sun Microsystems and IBM in the big high-end computer business and services business. Most of the board members were skeptical of this decision made by Caro urgered her to focus more on the printer business. Carol who was a true innovator whose opinion was that in tech business one has to tech savvy and needs to open new inroads from time to time. It is better to keeping looking for new choices instead on keep c lunging with the same old choices made in the past. This strategy on Carol proved successful and HP was able to win the $3 billion contract of Proctor & Gamble to provide computer services. During this period HP has developed a strong relationship with the Dream works. In the computer business she tried to compete with the Dell’s mow cost commodity strategy while on the other hand IBM high end server and consulting business.
One of the main critical reviews Carol has received was the lack on the focus of growth. While it may be true that during the later half during her CEO period she was more focused on inventing and capturing new industries which would reap result in the future. The Compaq acquisition made HP a true leader in the computer business but the reason of the way out of the company. Her departure from HP was not the one of the best departures ever been executed but she would be remembered for the invaluable vision and focus she provided HP.
In my opinion, the choices HP made during the period on Carol Fiorina were very effective. The cost cutting strategies was one the the most admired stint in the computer industry. The Compaq merger was at that time not looking too healthy but as time has passed it has shown that it was the right decision at the right time. This acquisition of Compaq resulted in HP to the No. 1 computer maker leaving behind DELL.