Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Meg Whitman has promised her successor will be the vendor’s first leader in upwards of 20 years to be promoted from within.
Speaking to an assembly of delegates from about 2,100 worldwide partners in Las Vegas, Whitman expressed her admiration for “the HP Way” — a blueprint for corporate culture formulated by founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. She declined to put a time frame on how long her tenure might be, but pledged that she’s in it for the long haul. She then explained that her replacement will be the vendor’s first new leader since Lew Platt in 1992 to be appointed from within.
“You have my commitment that the next CEO of HP will come from inside this company,” she confirmed.
Elsewhere in a Q&A with VARs, Whitman promised to remove “mystery” in the demarcation of direct and indirect business. She added that, while some government customers may feel the need to work with HP directly, partners will always be rewarded for the role they play in winning business.
“There are a series of accounts that we will take direct but we have to be clear as to what those are,” she said. “If you have done three, six or even nine months’ worth of work to develop a government program, we may have to [sign the contract], but we will pay you, and we have to make sure that we do that each and every time.”
In response to one VAR representative who suggested HP follow Samsung’s lead and invest in more profile-building marketing, such as advertising during the Super Bowl, Whitman asserted the vendor will be better served by focusing wholeheartedly on its turnaround plan.
“Is it worth it to spend $3 million or $4 million on a Super Bowl ad?” she asked. “We are very focused on what is the return on invested dollars and we have got to get it exactly right. I think it is going to be a few more years of getting the blocking and tackling done before [we would even consider making such an investment]. You do reach a lot of people, but 99.9 percent of them are never going to buy much of what we sell.”
The HP leader also responded to a question asking for her take on the proposed Dell buyout by claiming, “in my personal view, it is an opportunity.”
“What I have learned the hard way is that instability within your business is not a good thing,” she added. “We are now coming out of our phase of instability and uncertainty, both in the server business and the PC business.”
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