Running Hewlett Packard for the past nearly four years has been “hard,” CEO Meg Whitman told Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang during HP’s huge annual customer conference held in Las Vegas last week.
“I think whenever you come in to a turnaround, and I’ve done a couple of them, that it’s always harder than you think,” she said.
But not the hardest thing she’s ever done, she said.
“So it has been tough because the company had been through a lot and — but it just takes perseverance. You know, you get up every morning and you fight the good fight and you win hearts and minds of HP people and you restore the confidence of customers and partners. So it’s been hard but it’s been really gratifying. And I have to say, relative to running for governor, this is easy.”
Meg Whitman has been CEO at HP for just under four years. She was handed a company severely in debt with declining revenues and a plummeting stock price hitting lows around $US11 to $US12 dollars shortly after she took over.
She promised a turnaround in five years, and so far she …
- changed up HP’s top management, a couple of times.
- announced over $US16 billion in write-offs on some of HP’s largest acquisitions; she accused the executives of HP newly-acquired Autonomy of accounting fraud, (which they fervently deny) setting off a whirl of lawsuits.
- instituted one of HP’s largest-ever layoffs — which will total 55,000 people, and hints more will likely be cut when this round is done.
- started talking about offshoring more jobs.
- reportedly tried to negotiate the multi-million purchase of two of HP’s biggest historic rivals, EMC and CSC.
- struck up all sorts of new partnerships, while simultaneously developing a radically new computer called The Machine.
So she took the drastic measure of splitting up HP, the largest corporate split ever attempted, which will cost around $US3 billion to complete and create two Fortune 50 companies by November.
The lack of revenue growth is a problem, she admitted to Chang.
“What we told the analysts at our last earnings call, it [revenue] would be flat to down 1 per cent, which is not what we aspire to but it is such an improvement over four years ago,” she said. “But listen, we have to be able to grow these two companies because you can’t cut your way to greatness.”
Here’s the full interview: