New HP CEO Léo Apotheker is taking the helm of a company whose employees are psychologically damaged by years of cost cutting by Mark Hurd.”Hurd was fawned over by Wall St. but he made the numbers at the expense of the future of HP with R&D cuts, selling off HP’s real estate and treating employees like dirt. Good riddance for him,” says one employee.
Yesterday we asked HP employees what they think of the new boss. We heard back from over a dozen employees. It was a mixed bag of messages, but this comment most succinctly expresses what we heard:
“What do I or any of us think of Mr. Apotheker? What does it matter? HP has stopped caring what any of its employees think or how we feel about anything that is done. We are no different than printers or laptops, just covered in flesh.”
HP is a company with hundreds of thousands of employees around the world. This employee, or the other employees we heard from, might not represent the true psyche of the company. Anyone who cares to chime in or correct us, feel free to do so in the comments, or email us at [email protected] Anonymity guaranteed.
What follows is excerpts from some of the emails we received. (All typos are theirs). Our sources are confidential because as one employee put it, there is a “threat of termination from HP…really, they do that.”
'Not sure if anyone could be worse than Fiorina or Hurd. It seems like HP's board of directors is the real problem at HP. 7 of 10 appointed by Hurd now. Most of HP's good board members (Perkins, Hewlett, Orr, Packard's son) have either been fired or left in disgust. We really needed them to stay. The current Board (and past ones) were rather ineffectual. I'm hoping Wall St. will demand their replacement. HP really doesn't cultivate good leaders with a dictatorial person at the top. There were no internal candidates that really stood out. Yes, VJ, Ann Livermore and Bradley's names were called out as possible candidates. None are really 'CEO material'. It's beyond me how Ann has persisted over the years. 'Can't put my finger on anything she's ever done.
We have hopeless optimism with Apotheker. It was amusing that HP went out of their way to hire him when he was ousted from SAP for negative effects on employee morale, making customers angry and not able to really lead. When someone's ousted after only 7 months in the job, there's a message to be heard. Hurd was fawned over by Wall St. but he made the numbers at the expense of the future of HP with R&D cuts, selling off HP's real estate and treating employees like dirt. Good riddance for him. I don't think anyone can look as good as Hurd however because he cut and cut spending. The next person in line will feel the reality of his short term approach to running the company. I never though Hurd would stay long enough for the reality of his cuts to set in. Now Apotheker gets to deal with it. My hope is that Leo treats HP employees in a humane manner and rekindles R&D at HP. We'll see over time if that hope is misplaced.
It was a surprise, not a good one. I was concerned it would be Hurd henchman Bradley so it could have been worse I suppose. It doesn't matter, the inept board remains in place, Hurds plans continue to move on. As the selection was being made, more employees got the axe. To get HP employee opinions in the future, you will need to check with HP India or Costa Rica. Those are the new hotbeds of HP employment. Morale is low, HP employees are a beaten, battered bunch. By the time Hurd stripped away our base pay, 401k contributions, stopped paying for home office expenses, including telephone and internet charges, most of us are at pay levels achieved 5-10 years ago. So to your question about the CEO, 'WHO CARES'. I guess we could wait and see, but many of us won't be around to see how he does.
23 year (probably won't make 24) employee.
You asked for our opinion about Leo as our new Chief. I'm an HP employee in Europe. IMHO he's a great candidate for this role as he has a lot of knowledge in the IT industry. Don't think that SAP is just a software company. They provide services to their customer and also collaborate with Hardware companies to develop the software for many platforms. And we have a great leader team that will support Leo to run this company
HP Employees have a mixed feeling about Leos appointment. On one side they say it cannot get any worse for the employees, as Mark Hurd was 'gently speeking' not so generous. We'll find out soon, as the next salary increase round is around the corner. Some of them however fear Leo will continue Mark Hurds 'strategy' with regard to employees, and additionally could end up being less effective for the shareholders - something also an employee should worry about long term.
Yesterday however Leo has left a bad impression on German employees, not showing up to the Employee Meeting. Supposedly one of the engines of the aeroplane broke and he got grounded in Paris. This can of course happen. But nothing excuses him from not informing the employees about that beforehand. No offence to Cathie (Interim CEO who did manage to make it), but to be honest most of the employees came just to get to know Leo.
As a longtime employee/retiree I enjoyed the BEST of times and leadership under Bill, Dave, and Lew. I'm hoping that after Carly and Mark, the new leadership rekindles a little of the HPWAY that many of us were PROUD and dedicated to work hard for at HP. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the situation for many HP employees today. The company enjoyed success with a loyal employee following until recently......(even during tough times when belt tightening was necessary) I only know what i've read about LEO, and only time will tell about the results of his leadership. However, as a share/stake holder and an HPWAY supporter I'm crossing my fingers and toes AGAIN.
The choice to bring in Leo was a good one. That said, I'm very much a supporter of 'hire from within' and 'grow your next CEO'. However, there is a product business unit dominated mentality at HP that Mark Hurd really reinforced (since this is his background as well). The board was smart to bring in Leo to move the company to a more services and solutions mindset. That move is going to require significant innovation from HP. Companies are accelerating the trend to acquire functionality to run their businesses from web services. We see basic infrastructure (storage, compute power, etc), email, portals (for everything from retail websites to supplier exchanges), and a host of complete business processes (procurement, HR, Payroll, ......even ERP systems) being sourced through these web services (the cloud). HP has the best technology and capability in the world to provision these services. With the selection of Mr. Apotheker, HP sends a clear message that it will move aggressively in this direction.
Kind of early to be asking this, seeing that our new CEO doesn't take over until Nov. 1... but as far as the question of 'insider vs. outsider', probably a good move as the primary SVP candidates have more of a tactical than a strategic focus. Anne L. has been passed over many times, VJ is way too valuable where he is, Todd Bradley too.
As far as Leo vs. someone more well-known, well, that's a good question. I listened to what he had to say on the employee internal teleconf and seemed good as far as it went. As one of many employees making less than they did in 2005, I hope he will actually treat the employees with respect, unlike Mr. Hurd who did nothing but take things away from us. He said the right sort of things, but again until he actually puts something in play it's hard to say.
I do find it amusing that people like Jack Welch and that idiot at Oracle have gotten absolutely apoplectic regarding our new CEO.
Hey I was pretty happy they picked Leo to do the job. He was in Europe and could not make it to our BBN site. But Cathy was there and talked to us.
She said that she understands our pain. And showed us he slides about why we are going about things.
But I can tell you it is not fun to work at HP. There was talk that HP might purchase SAP. So then we could offer the entire stack like Oracle. (Not major people talking just the water cooler folks)
Leo has to be better at handling people than Mark Hurd. That guy sucked to work for and kept the money for himself.
What do I or any of us think of Mr. Apotheker? What does it matter? HP has stopped caring what any of its employees think or how we feel about anything that is done. We are no different than printers or laptops, just covered in flesh.
The underlying problem here is unbridled greed -- greed of the board, greed of the executives, greed of the shareholders. Did anyone care that when Mr. Hurd was hired by Oracle, its stock rose? Mr. Hurd was responsible for over 50,000 layoffs and massive pay cuts. Does anyone actually believe that morale at HP has been anything but abysmal for a number of years? How can anyone expect 'quality' work from such people?
From reports and past performance, Mr. Apotheker appears to be a 'cost cutter' (yes, some of do read more than technical journals). We may not be rocket scientists, but please give IT professionals a bit of credit -- we know exactly what that means. More layoffs and pay cuts via reorganization. When HP bought EDS and 'moved' some HP people to EDS/ HP Enterprise Services, THEIR pay was cut using the justification that they were being placed into new roles. Of course, this is what HP has been known for -- just ask those former Compaq employees who are still around.
Certainly, a pay cut is better than a layoff, but it is like a water torture. Drip by drip, dollar by dollar, we await the next slash with dread. Customers are starting to feel the difference, although they may not care, at least not yet. IT work still requires 'brains,' which I think requires some level of enthusiasm. When you cannot afford to care for your children or pay your mortgage, it is difficult to be enthusiastic. The value loss is immeasurable -- how can one determine what someone might have been able to do if his heart was in it? I see many employees trying, but only they know if is their 'best work.'
Of course, Mr. Apotheker would know nothing about this. A $1.2 million salary, plus a $4 million signing bonus, PLUS a $4.6 million dollar 'relocation package'? I won't even get into the tens of thousands of restricted stock he'll be getting, and he's not even started work yet. For those of us who've gone for years with no raises and worse (pay cuts of 25-30% and more after years without raises) despite quality performance, it is clear signal that things will not be getting better, at least for us. Bu who cares, as long as stock values rise?
What do we think of Leo Apotheker? Who is John Galt?