Whitman: Political campaign gave her 'thick skin'

The HP CEO tells a leadership conference that focus is the most important component of strategy

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman's bruising run for governor of California left her with a quality that she needs as she seeks to turn around the computer giant: very "thick skin," she told the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston on Thursday.

Whitman's expensive effort to gain the governor's office was "the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was tremendously humbling," she said. But after the rough-and-tumble of politics, the mixed public reaction to her appointment as HP chief executive last September was easy to take, she told the audience at her keynote address. Thanks to her experience, "tough questions don't throw me off my game," she said.

Asked whether she would be drawn back into the political world -- Whitman has a long relationship with Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who was her boss at Bain & Co. early in her career and could conceivably invite her to join his administration should he win in November -- she assured the audience that her commitment to HP is long-term.

"HP needs consistency more than anything else," she said, to spontaneous applause from a large crowd of HP employees seated together in the audience. "I must stay the course."

Whitman said that her first priority upon joining the company was to remove the uncertainty caused by the fact that it has had four chief executives in 10 years. That prompted a series of quick decisions, including undoing her predecessor's move to spin off the PC business.

As she moves the company forward, it is with a belief in the importance of focus in setting strategy.

"Strategy is about the art of exclusion, deciding what you're not going to do," Whitman said. "And finally, if something isn't working, then you've got to do something different. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Heichler

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?