As former CEO Carly Fiorina runs for Republican presidential nomination, her record continues to come under attack. I worked at Compaq during the Hewlett-Packard/Compaq merger and the transition period was extremely positive and well-conceived. Working closely with Compaq chairman and CEO Michael Capellas, Fiorina was an excellent and effective CEO.
Notwithstanding the tech bubble burst at the time, and problems within the HP board of directors, integrating the internal systems and cultures of two huge companies like HP and Compaq was no easy task. But Fiorina knew what she was up against and was never one to back down from a challenge.
Fiorina and her team worked tirelessly to make sure she kept her promise of a smooth transition. On day one, we integrated the two companies with common e-mail nomenclature. The new HP also sunset the legacy systems and product groups that were not the market leaders in their categories, as in the retirement of HP NetServer in favor of Compaq ProLiant. These were extremely difficult business decisions, which Fiorina and her team engineered gracefully and employed with solid business logic.
Fiorina was instrumental in consolidating and prioritizing hundreds of overlapping and disparate IT projects and applications. She effectively organized and conducted cross-cultural workshops and teams aimed specifically at successfully integrating the two corporate cultures.
She put the two teams into rooms and brought out in the open, through facilitated dialogue, the differences in approach and methodologies from the two companies. This was instrumental in both HP and Compaq’s employees’ understanding of where our new coworkers were coming from and how best to work together.
I was privileged to work under Fiorina’s direction. Now citizens are seeing what we saw in her all those years ago, and I am thrilled we have someone of her caliber running for president.
There are many similarities between what Fiorina accomplished at HP and what she could do for this country. The integration of two large companies, with different cultures and different personalities, is akin to the situation in Washington.
There are many different personalities, opinions, and culture clashes in Washington. Fiorina can smoothly navigate partisan politics. She will be able to make both sides see why they disagree, how things can be mended, and find a fair, equal ground for both parties.
At HP and Compaq, she had a plan and she executed. She brings to the table the unique blend of a high degree of business competence, capability, and energy — just what this country needs.Hugh Baver, who was senior territory account manager at Compaq, is director of East Coast sales for BSquare.