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Back when she was a Stanford University undergrad, Hewlett-Packard president and chief executive officer Carleton “Carly” Fiorina worked as an HP temp shipping clerk. After graduation, she quickly moved on to bigger and better things, rising from AT&T account rep to lead Lucent Technologies’ spinoff from the Bell mother ship. Her subsequent success as head of Lucent’s Global Service Provider Business helped enable Fiorina to beat out a strong pack of rivals to win the top HP spot a year ago.

Fiorina returned to Silicon Valley to take the reins of a company bedeviled by inconsistent financial performance. Seeking to reinvent HP, she evoked its original “garage” spirit and launched a $200 million brand and advertising campaign that included a new logo emblazoned with the word “invent.” She also cast aside HP’s recent division into four semi-autonomous business enterprises, each with its own president and CEO, in favor of a more cohesive structure with one chief executive: Carly Fiorina.

Reminding us that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard “didn’t operate a democracy and they made very fast decisions,” Fiorina has mandated aggressive goals: growth in revenues and earnings of 12 to 15 percent for the fiscal year that began last November 1. She’s off to a pretty good start. The typically slow first quarter that ended on January 31-the first totally on her watch-saw revenues up 14 percent, though profits had farther to go. Meanwhile, HP’s stock price, at $114.65 when she took over, hit $155.55 earlier this year, and was trading at around $147 when TR went to press.

Fiorina returned to Silicon Valley to take the reins of a company bedeviled by inconsistent financial performance. Seeking to reinvent HP, she evoked its original “garage” spirit and launched a $200 million brand and advertising campaign that included a new logo emblazoned with the word “invent.” She also cast aside HP’s recent division into four semi-autonomous business enterprises, each with its own president and CEO, in favor of a more cohesive structure with one chief executive: Carly Fiorina.

Reminding us that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard “didn’t operate a democracy and they made very fast decisions,” Fiorina has mandated aggressive goals: growth in revenues and earnings of 12 to 15 percent for the fiscal year that began last November 1. She’s off to a pretty good start. The typically slow first quarter that ended on January 31-the first totally on her watch-saw revenues up 14 percent, though profits had farther to go. Meanwhile, HP’s stock price, at $114.65 when she took over, hit $155.55 earlier this year, and was trading at around $147 when TR went to press.

Her early success, seemingly boundless energy and fearless leadership have already made Fiorina an American business legend. She spoke with TR contributing writer Robert Buderi about what it takes to reinvent a major corporation, and what Hewlett-Packard sees as the future of computing.

TR: What did you see in HP that made you excited to come back-and what are the main things you didn’t see that you felt needed to be done or put in place?
FIORINA: I could see that HP was at a pivotal point. It’s a unique company at a unique time in its history, a company poised to take full advantage of the Internet Age. I want to help the company achieve the right balance between preserving the core values of HP, the soul of the place that has been so special and so revered, but at the same time, reinvent the business in important ways.

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