So whats a Mark Heard? Thats what I found myself asking when someone called and excitedly told me the news that Mark Hurd—the correct spelling—would apparently be succeeding Carly Fiorina at HP. Succeeding where Carly failed must be the hope, I suppose.
The problem: My friend didnt actually know who Hurd was or where hes from. A longtime HP executive, perhaps? But why didnt they go outside? Surely if they had wed recognize the outsiders name, right? Could HP really replace someone whose first name had become another way of saying “HP” with someone we dont already know?
Well, Mr. Hurd is a longtime executive, all right, but at a company that flies so far below the radar that its CEO is not a household name.
Unless youre in Dayton, which ought to be a tip-off: Mark Hurd spent 25 years at NCR Corp., the last two as CEO. And Dayton, Ohio is the location of its corporate headquarters.
So, yes, HP has gone the obscure route with its choice, at least as obscure as the CEO of a company with $6 billion in annual revenue can be.
Lack of broad notoriety aside, Hurd seems likely to be a good choice. Hes led a resurgence at NCR, which struggled mightily after a screwed-up acquisition by AT&T from which it nearly didnt recover before being spun back out.
And while most HP customers wont recognize Hurds name, hes a Wall Street darling, something HP could use right now.
On Hurds watch as CEO, NCRs share price has more than tripled, though it fell more than 17 percent Tuesday upon the news he had resigned, effective immediately, to take a position with an unnamed global technology company.
Later that day, HP announced Hurds appointment as CEO, a notch below Carlys role as CEO and chairwoman. Fiorinas other replacement, Patricia Dunn, is expected to remain HPs chairwoman.
NCRs business, which crosses a number of industries, is in some ways similar to HPs. They are also both “old” companies that have had some trouble transitioning to a tighter, more competitive economy. Hurd has helped NCR manage that transition, something Fiorina was unable to do at HP.
Hurds appointment should be reassuring to everyone. HP is returning to strong business performance as a requirement for running the company. Hurd also wont try to replace HPs branding with a personal one, something Ms. Fiorina did routinely.
The heat will be on Mark Hurd right from the start when he arrives in Palo Alto, but his experience—and success—at NCR bode well. HP deserves a real leader this time, and seems to have found one.