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Hewlett-Packard Forces Celebrity CEO to Quit

Her star power helped her in lobbying on such issues as international trade and science education. Fiorina was named to a United Nations committee on promoting small businesses in the developing world. She was scheduled to be in Washington yesterday to meet with administration and congressional officials.

In her dealings with her employees, however, celebrity was a handicap. Many saw the company's 2002 merger with Compaq as the beginning of the end.


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

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HP-Compaq Still Fuels Debate Over Marriage of Equals (The Washington Post, Feb 10, 2005)
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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.

Almost from the day she took over job, Hewlett-Packard officials and people in the financial community said, Fiorina was obsessed with making Hewlett-Packard bigger. She first tried to purchase PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and then set her sights on Compaq just months after that deal fell apart. With almost boundless energy, she fought Walter Hewlett, the son of one of HP's founders, in a proxy war that included billboards in Times Square and countless meetings with big shareholders.

Fiorina argued that purchasing Compaq would help the company compete better against Dell and IBM. Hewlett thought that by purchasing Compaq she would only saddle the company with more potentially money-losing business lines.

Hewlett-Packard holds a special place in Silicon Valley's history. Famously founded in a garage by two Stanford students, it was known for its "HP Way," a set of values that believed in a flat management structure and a respect for all employees. The top officials were known for walking around the design and shop floors regularly and chatting up even the lowest-level employees at random.

Fiorina, in contrast, Hewlett-Packard employees said, was often visible only on a TV broadcast of company meetings. She flew around the world on a corporate jet and insisted on directly approving initiatives large and small -- even to the point, critics said, of micromanaging many initiatives.

But what really set employees against her was a decision to cut jobs after the merger. Angry employees said that the family-oriented company's founders would never have stood for the layoffs.

Representatives of Walter Hewlett said he would not comment. Instead he released a statement saying that that he is "looking forward to HP fulfilling its promise."

Staff writer Amy Joyce and researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.


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