High Hopes in Palo Alto

HP hopes new CEO Hurd can get it back on track with his results-driven management style

March 31, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Brace yourselves, folks. Mark Hurd, who earned a reputation for tough leadership during his time at NCR Corp., looks set to deliver more of the same as Carly Fiorinas successor at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ). (See It's Hurd for HP and HP CEO Steps Down.)

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm last night announced its new CEO, quickly bringing to a close a search process that can often drag on for many months. And with HP undergoing a business unit revamp, board members were keen to get an experienced CEO on board.

As the appointment came as no surprise -- Hurd had been widely tipped to fill Fiorina’s shoes -- the news was met with indifference by the markets, with HP's share price dipping slightly, by just 5 cents, to $21.73 in late morning trading.

In a conference call to introduce the new CEO this morning, HP board director Patricia Dunn praised Hurd’s “direct, open style,” which seems a polite way of saying that Hurd is set to shake things up and ruffle some feathers.

With that reputation in mind, analysts on the call were keen to know whether Hurd would be replicating the robust, results-driven style of management that characterized his time running NCR’s Teradata business unit.”I haven’t changed my stripes,” replied Hurd, who described his management style as one where people are held accountable for meeting their business targets.

But he sidestepped a question about his views on HP’s current headcount. “I have no preconceived notions of workforce reductions,” he said.

With the introductory call out of the way, Hurd will now be sizing up the task ahead of him, though he hasn't set himself a deadline to draw his conclusions. “I'm going to take an appropriate time to understand the company," he told analysts.

Given his experience at NCR, where he successfully managed five separate operating models simultaneously, it's unlikely he'll undertake just one process at a time. That could lead to a bigger shakeup than the current internal process involving the combination of the PC and printing divisions (see HP Plots New Course).

And it seems likely that HP's restructuring won't end there. With other parts of the empire, such as the storage business, currently underperforming, there has been speculation that other divisions could be in line for an overhaul.Hurd gave little away on this morning’s call, though he did address the question of whether he has been brought in to keep HP’s portfolio intact. “I received no pre-conditions,” he said.

Dunn backed Hurd up on this. “There were no litmus tests on strategy,” she said. The director went on to add that Fiorina’s departure had not been prompted by strategy issues, but rather due to the performance of the company.

Hurd, 48, joined NCR in 1980 and worked his way up through the ranks, holding a number of senior sales and marketing positions, as well as heading the company’s Teradata division. During his time in Dayton, Ohio, Hurd also served as the company’s COO, and became CEO in March 2003.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox
More Insights