New HP CEO Meg Whitman Addresses Criticism

Meg Whitman, former Ebay CEO and candidate for Governor of California, has been appointed Hewlett-Packard's new president and CEO. In an interview with All Things Digital, Whitman and HP Executive Chair Ray Lane addressed the criticism of Whitman's lack of enterprise technology experience:

220px-Meg_Whitman_crop AllThingsD: Meg, the main criticism of you, since you've been named CEO of HP, is that your main experience before was at eBay, which is a consumer-facing company. The response on yesterday's conference call has been that at eBay you were a purchaser of a lot of enterprise technology and that this gives you some important relevant experience. I get the point, but could you elaborate on it a bit? How does having been an enterprise buyer help you be HP's CEO?

Whitman: What HP needs now more than anything else is management skills, communication skills, and a commitment to executional excellence, all of which I know well, and are sort of core competencies from my 35-year career in business. I know technology because I ran a company whose very existence would not have been possible without it, and was a very significant buyer of technology products. And so that brings me a unique buyer's perspective. But I have not spent 35 years in the enterprise business. Add so what that means is that I will be relying heavily on Dave Donatelli, on Todd Bradley, on the senior executives at HP, and also, frankly on Ray Lane, who was at Oracle for many years and EDS, and who knows this space well. So I think what customers will get is that one plus one equals three.

In a conference call, Whitman addressed current issues at HP, but investors are skeptical: the stock was down 4% in early trading today.

Discussion Starters:

  • How well do you think Whitman addressed the question about her experience?
  • Read the full interview with Meg Whitman. How did she handle some of the tougher questions? Which are her best and weakest responses? 
  • Research HP's leadership history and recent performance. What, if anything, can the company do to improve its communication to investors and the public?