Carly Fiorina, one of the most talked about executives in industry, tells the story from her perspective.
At age twenty-three, Carly Fiorina was a law school dropout who had no idea what to do with her life. Twenty-two years later, Fortune named her ”The Most Powerful Woman in Business” and she was recruited to be chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard the first female CEO of a Fortune 20 company with a mandate to shake things up. And then her story really gets interesting.
The legacy of Hewlett-Packard’s founders:
Bill and Dave had once been radicals and pioneers. Now, I’d seen too many instances where a new idea was quickly dismissed with the comment: “We don’t do it that way. It’s not the HP Way.” The HP Way was being used as a shield against change.
The fight over the Compaq merger:
It was a made-for-television drama complete with a reluctant, slightly rumpled good guy battling valiantly to save his father’s legacy and protect the little people pitted against a possibly wicked, definitely ego-driven, controlling woman determined to have her own way.
The media spotlight:
After striving my entire career to be judged by my results and my decisions, the coverage of my gender, my appearance and perceptions of my personality would outweigh anything else.
In this extraordinarily candid memoir, she reveals the private person behind the public persona. She shares her triumphs and failures, her deepest fears and most painful confrontations. She shows us what it was like to be an ambitious young woman at stodgy old AT&T and then a fast-track executive during the spin-off of Lucent Technologies.
Above all, Fiorina describes how she drove the transformation of legendary but deeply troubled HP, in the face of opposition. She was an outsider in every way imaginable, the first CEO not promoted from within; a woman leader in a male-dominated culture; a marketing expert in a company that worshipped engineers; an easterner surrounded by Silicon Valley lifers. As she writes, “Time had stood still for the people of HP; they did not know how to move forward without their founders. They were afraid of change; what if changing anything meant destroying everything”
One of Fiorina’s big themes is that in the end business isn’t just about numbers; it’s about people. This book goes beyond the caricature of the powerful woman executive to show who she really is and what the rest of us male or female, in business or not can learn from the tough choices she made along the way.
Carly Fiorina was president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 and chairman from 2000 to 2005. Before joining HP, she spent nearly twenty years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies, where she held a number of senior leadership positions. She has a B.A. in medieval history and philosophy from Stanford University, an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland, and an M.S. from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She and her husband, Frank, divide their time between California and Washington, D.C./Virginia. They have a daughter and two grandchildren.