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Former HP CEO Fiorina pulls no punches in book

Former HP CEO Fiorina pulls no punches in book

The memoir of fallen Hewlett-Packard Co. leader Carly Fiorina, once America's most powerful woman chief executive, paints an unsparing picture of the internal power struggles and gender politics that prefigured America's most public corporate boardroom scandal.
"Tough Choices," due to go on sale next week, is Fiorina's long-awaited return to the public arena after she went silent in February 2005 following her sudden firing as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the computer and printer maker.
Publication of the much-anticipated memoir coincides with the filing of felony charges by California officials on Wednesday against former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who helped drive Fiorina out of HP and took over as chairman.
Dunn and four others have been charged with felonies and are accused of spying on journalists and HP directors in one of the year's biggest corporate scandals.
Running through her narrative of becoming the first outsider to run Silicon Valley's original high-tech company are fresh details of the intense infighting and embarrassing press leaks that set the stage for later corporate witch hunts.
"Beyond the leak, there was much about the board's dynamics that was disturbing," Fiorina writes in a book meant to appeal to the women's self-help crowd. Chapter headings include: "I Can and I Will," "Saving my Tears" and "Owning my Soul.
The book breaks with the anodyne genre of corporate autobiography that is typically long on management philosophy and short on personal revelation. She pulls no punches criticizing former colleagues, board members, and underlings.
The fact of being a woman leader in a male-dominated technology culture figured heavily in these spats, she writes of her tenure at HP from 1999 until February of last year. Dunn emerged as HP's new chairman in the weeks leading up to hiring of new CEO Mark Hurd.
Fiorina draws a picture of constant infighting pitting what amounted to a Silicon Valley male establishment against women executives whose world view came from their corporate experiences outside the high-tech world.
As she tells it, she faced off against the modern equivalent of a "good ol' boys" network who bonded over technology rather than more traditional male pursuits.
Among them were board members Tom Perkins, a legendary venture capitalist, and Jay Keyworth, President Ronald Reagan's science and technology adviser - both of whom were later identified as leaking HP board discussions to the press.
They were "big-picture guys" who "loved the minutiae of technology" but "were impatient with the details of what was necessary to actually get something done," in her words. "Like many technologists, they recognized and liked their own kind, but they weren't particularly perceptive about, appreciative of, or interested in people who were different," she writes.


Updated : 2021-06-18 23:52 GMT+08:00