Meg Whitman is the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Not interim chief. This is Whitman's for-real next big gig.
And it is big indeed, given that the storied Silicon Valley company has lurched from chief to chief to chief ever since the board, in 1999, eased out Lew Platt and recruited Carly Fiorina from Lucent (ALU).
H-P's board fired Fiorina in early 2005 and has had a thing about women since. In 2006 came the removal of HP board chair Pattie Dunn. Then Mark Hurd, Fiorina's CEO successor, got into trouble over his relationship with a female HP consultant. With Hurd's 2010 ouster came new chief Leo Apotheker from SAP (SAP)--and an influx of women to fill board seats and help clean up the mess.
Whitman, 55, was one of those new HP directors, fresh off her defeat in the California governor race. I hear that Whitman, who is also on the Procter & Gamble (PG) board, was key during the past couple of months as the board assessed Apotheker's poor performance. Having taken a part-time gig at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers last spring, to test her venture-capital chops, Whitman was available to step up. And ready. Fellow HP board member--and Kleiner partner--Ray Lane and another well-known VC, Marc Andreessen, apparently were critical in getting consensus among the directors.
Debate will rage about whether Whitman is right for the job. After building eBay from a startup to a Fortune 500 company, she stumbled toward the end of her CEO run.
The other question: Why would Whitman take this very difficult job? Having spent many days with Whitman (reporting Fortune cover stories about her in 2004 and 2009), I have a sense: A corporate strategist and manager to the core, she was trained at P&G and Disney (DIS) and Bain Consulting, pre-eBay, and has long loved a giant management challenge. Also, having already gotten her head around the idea of running California, she probably didn't think the H-P challenge is as daunting as other execs might.
So, now Meg Whitman is in charge of California's second-largest company--behind Chevron (CVX). And HP is, six years after Carly, once again the largest Fortune 500 company led by a woman.
It was a double hit to Fortune's Most Powerful Women list last Tuesday when Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz and Bank of America's (BAC) Sallie Krawcheck got fired.
Bartz, No. 10 in our 2010 MPW rankings, went out with a bang--as my explosive interview with her, F-bombs included, shows. Meanwhile, Krawcheck, BofA's global wealth management chief and No. 24 on our list, exited without a sound.
I know both women well, and it's worth observing that MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 12, 2011 9:26 AM ET
Sean Maloney was on his way to being the chipmaker's next CEO when a stroke crippled his body -- and took away his ability to talk. This is the story of how he returned to work (he's now head of Intel China) -- and found his voice again.
FORTUNE -- Sean Maloney grew up in gritty South East London, last in a line of six kids, and got kicked out of MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 9, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Public-relations executive Richard Edelman writes in his blog this week that he wants women to occupy half of the senior roles in his company by 2016.
"Our goal is simple—50% of those on Strategy Committee, Operating Committee, GCRM and practice leadership will be women by 2016," he writes. "They will have earned the positions; there will not be a quota."
Edelman, who is president and CEO of Edelman, the world's largest independent public-relations MOREStephanie N. Mehta, Deputy Managing Editor - Sep 2, 2011 10:49 AM ET
Besides her 1,071 wins, 18 Final Fours, and eight national championships--the stuff that makes Pat Summitt the winningest coach, male or female, in NCAA basketball history--there is the stuff of her leadership. Measured against anyone else in sports or anywhere, Summitt stands as one of the most formidable and focused leaders you will ever meet.
Last night, after the University of Tennessee Lady Vols coach made the stunning announcement that she MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 24, 2011 3:03 PM ET
A look back at the way the restaurant chain handled the deaths of two CEOs and found the right man for the job.
I wrote this article in 2005, a few months after Jim Skinner became CEO of McDonald's (MCD). The piece didn't run in the magazine because of space constraints, but this tale, presented here as it was written six years ago, remains as relevant as ever. The story appears MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 23, 2011 5:00 AM ET
The 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women list will be announced on September 29. Meantime, a few stars on the 2010 MPW list are on Fortune's Executive Dream Team--a fantasy all-star lineup of managers, selected by Fortune editors with assists from recruiters and other business know-it-alls.
I use the term know-it-all with endearment because the selections, revealed today, are good. The non-executive chair of choice: Anne Mulcahy, the former CEO of Xerox MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 22, 2011 3:55 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
How critical to success is a healthy corporate culture?
As my Postcard last Thursday noted, Ginny Rometty, one of the top execs at IBM (IBM), says that culture is emerging to be the No. 1 corporate asset.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's (DWA) chief, seems to agree--as yesterday's Postcard details.
Another guy who deems a thriving culture to be a vital ingredient of a successful company: Warren Buffett. I spent much MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 17, 2011 11:14 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Women face a narrower band of acceptable behavior than men do. Women can be powerful. Women can be likeable. Being both is difficult to do.
Last week, I was in California, the ultimate proving ground for that theory. California is the place, after all, where three well-known women -- former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Carly Fiorina, former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi -- have learned that MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 31, 2011 1:25 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
For a lot of people, their job is their life and their life is their job.
John and Eileen Donahoe decided early on that they didn't want to live that way. One night when he was 23 and already an up-and-comer at consulting giant Bain in Boston, he wrote this message to his fiancé on a Shawmut Bank slip over dinner: "I will not live the life of a MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 26, 2011 11:42 AM ET
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