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HP CEO Whitman Named Board Chairman

Whitman takes over for Ralph Whitworth, who stepped down earlier in the week due to health issues.

HP CEO Whitman

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is now chairman of the company's board of directors, replacing Ralph Whitworth, who announced earlier in the week that he was stepping down from the position for health reasons.

HP also announced July 17 that Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of metals company Alcoa, has been named to the board, pushing the membership to 12. In addition, Pat Russo, a former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent who has been on the HP board since 2011, was appointed lead independent director.

Whitman, the one-time CEO of eBay, has been on HP's board since January 2011, and became CEO in September of that year, when she was named the tech giant's president and CEO during a time of high executive turnover. She replaced Leo Apotheker, the former SAP CEO who had spent 11 tumultuous months in the top seat for HP before being forced to resign. It was under Apotheker's tenure that HP tried to build up—and then quickly dismantled—its webOS-based tablet lineup. He also announced that HP was looking to shed its PC business, another move that quickly backfired.

Apotheker had been hired to replace Mark Hurd, who had been forced to resign over questions about his expense reports. These various forces—from the CEO turnover and changing corporate strategies to questionable acquisitions (such as Autonomy and EDS) to the onset of the contraction in the global PC business—greeted Whitman when she took over the top job.

A year later, Whitman outlined her multi-year plan to turn around the company, a strategy that has included as many as 50,000 job cuts. During a presentation to analysts in 2012, Whitman said a significant need for HP was stability in leadership.

"My belief is that the single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packard has been changes in CEOs and executive leadership, which caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices and, frankly, some significant operational miscues," she said at the time. "It's going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like."

Board member Gary Reiner said he was pleased with Whitman's appointment as chairman.

"Meg has been an outstanding leader since coming to HP, and we believe that as chairman she can most effectively drive the turnaround and continue to build value for our shareholders," Reiner said in a statement.