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Hewlett-Packard Forces Celebrity CEO to Quit

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 10, 2005; Page A01

Carly Fiorina, whose reign at the top of Hewlett-Packard Co. made her one of the corporate world's most powerful women, was ousted yesterday after failing to turn around the aging computer maker as quickly as its directors desired.

During her six years at the helm of the storied Silicon Valley firm, Fiorina became a celebrity, known around the world simply by her first name, her face instantly recognizable from the countless magazine covers on which it appeared. She was so successful as a spokeswoman for the high-tech industry in public policy matters that some speculated she might run for political office someday.

Carleton S. "Carly" Fiorina became Hewlett-Packard CEO in 1999. (Mike Blake -- Reuters)

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Fiorina Biographical Data
From Associated Press at 1:57 PM

NAME: Cara Carleton Sneed Fiorina.

BIRTHDATE: Sept. 6, 1954.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in medieval history and philosophy, Stanford University, 1976; master's in business administration degree, University of Maryland, 1980; master's of science degree in management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989.

EXPERIENCE: Saleswoman, marketing posts and other executive positions, including head of North American network systems, at AT&T Corp., 1980-1996. Helped lead spinoff of equipment/research division into Lucent Technologies Inc. in 1996. President, Lucent's global service provider business, 1998-1999. Named chief executive and president of Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1999 and given the title of chairwoman in 2000. She resigned from the company Feb. 9, 2005, citing differences with the board over executing its strategy.

FAMILY: Husband, Frank Fiorina; two stepdaughters.

QUOTE: "Oh, I'm sure I've made my share of (mistakes). I don't think I've made more than my fair share of them, although I think more has been made of the ones that I've made," from an October 2001 interview with The Associated Press.

She had a far harder time running the day-to-day business at Hewlett-Packard.

As chairman and chief executive, Fiorina, 50, struggled to transform the company to better compete in a world where the prices and other features of personal computers and other equipment were becoming virtually indistinguishable. In 2002, she led Hewlett-Packard's efforts to acquire rival Compaq Computer Corp. for $25 billion, winning a highly contested shareholder proxy vote but alienating some members of the company's founding families with her tactics.

The merger, which aimed to build the company's consulting services arm, wasn't as successful as she had hoped. Last year was especially rough, with HP losing market share to computer maker Dell Inc. on the one hand and to technology services giant International Business Machines Corp. on the other.

HP stock on Tuesday, before her departure was made public, was worth 70 percent what it was when she took control of the company in 1999 and about 90 percent of its value before the merger was announced in 2001. The company's share of PC sales based on units shipped worldwide fell to 15.8 percent in 2004, from 19.3 percent in 1999. But the company remained the top provider of printers, and the company's consulting arm was growing stronger. Profit increased to $1.37 billion in 2004, from $1.22 billion in 2003.

Fiorina, who received a $21.2 million severance package, joins 92 chief executives who left their jobs in January -- the most in a month since February 2001, according to a report released this week by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. John A. Challenger, the company's chief executive, said the high number may be due to directors taking more active roles in overseeing management after the scandals and accounting troubles at other companies.

Only a few other female chief executives remain at the nation's biggest and best-known companies -- Anne M. Mulcahy of Xerox Corp., Patricia F. Russo of Lucent Technologies Inc., Mary Sammons of Rite Aid Corp., Andrea Jung of Avon Products Inc., S. Marce Fuller of Mirant Corp., and Margaret C. Whitman of eBay Inc. -- and some women's advocacy groups worry that there are few in the pipeline.

Many women, those groups say, remain in what's known as "pink-collar ghettos," fields such as human resources and communications that rarely lead to top jobs. To become a high-level executive, it helps to hold positions that generate revenue or have profit-and-loss responsibility. Women hold only 9.9 percent of such positions, according to Catalyst, a women's research organization.

Some said Fiorina was forced to live up to impossible expectations because of her status as a high-profile female executive.

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