HP CEO Whitman Putting Her Own Executive Team in Place

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-08-22 Print this article Print

In June, Whitman reassigned Todd Bradley, who had been executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group, and replaced him with former Lenovo and Acer executive Don Weisler, who had been with HP as senior vice president in Asia. The move was applauded by some analysts, including Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research.

"Removal of Todd Bradley from PSG is very welcome news for investors," Chowdhry told eWEEK in an email at the time. "Todd Bradley had made a series of strategic mistakes; his departure should have happened long before."

After the Enterprise Group's poor financial quarter, Whitman turned her focus on Donatelli. However, Pund-IT's King said that while the group fared badly, it wasn't all due to Donatelli's management. In some areas, it was a case of bad timing. The Business Critical Systems (BCS) unit, which includes high-end servers based on Intel's Itanium platform, was hit hard when Oracle announced in 2011 that it would no longer port its business applications to Itanium. A court last year ruled against Oracle, but by that time BCS had lost a lot of customers and has yet to recover.

The $13.9 billion acquisition in 2008 of services firm EDS has not worked out like officials had hoped, and HP's sizable x86 server business is under price pressure from Dell.

"In Donatelli's case, it was sort of the luck of the draw," King said. "He was the golden boy when things were going well, and now that it isn't, he's had his head on the block."

In addition to Donatelli's reassignment, Whitman named Henry Gomez, the company's executive vice president and chief communications officer, as chief marketing officer, replacing Marty Homlish, who also was reassigned within the company.

Whitman said she is happy with the leadership team she has in place now. It remains to be seen, however, whether these new leaders can find a way to fix an ailing company. In response to an analyst's question, Whitman noted that she does tend to promote from within, even while saying the company needs new ideas from its executives.

"We've got a lot of very talented executives in the company who have been in second- or third-level jobs, who are more than capable of stepping up," she said. "I tend to want to go with people who I think have the fresh ideas and the energy and the enthusiasm, but also don't have to start at the beginning of a learning curve."

Whitman said she wants her executives to set realistic targets, deliver on their commitments and think in the long term.

"We are trying to set HP up for another really great run here," she said. "You have got to decide where you are going to play and how you are going to win because this isn't all about revenue growth. ... Then make sure that you have done a perfect job of segmenting your market and marrying the right products to that market segmentation.

"If you do that and manage your cost structure, we will have a very successful business here. … This is something historically HP has done really well, but it is not being done as well as it could be in all parts of the business. It needs to be a real strength of the company going forward, especially as we are navigating these incredible shifts in the industry. It's not business as usual in our industry, and we have to be better at it than we have been in the last year or two."

Jeffrey Burt is senior editor with eWEEK. Follow him on Twitter.



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