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I worked at HP; I can tell you, Carly turned that company around

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

I worked at Hewlett-Packard for about eight years, and left the company just a few years before Carly Fiorina took over. I can tell you from first-hand experience what HP was really like back then.

While her detractors paint an idealistic portrait of a company before her tenure — where everything was in good order and people were happy – this could not be further from the truth.

It is true that HP was still a great company when I started working there in the '80s. But by the '90s, the company was struggling. HP was operating in a cutthroat economic environment and made a series of managerial missteps that destroyed the morale and the customer focus of their employees.

I personally witnessed this stressful work environment that led to employees breaking down emotionally and physically. Many were pushed to work long hours of overtime while their family lives suffered.

If they did not work overtime and were then unable to keep up with increased workloads, they received poor performance reviews and were pressured to leave the company. When they did leave, their positions would then be filled with temporary workers who could be hired and fired much more easily than a permanent employee — even though HP's written policy had long been not to be a hire-and-fire type of company but, rather, one that professed to value its employees.

This situation impacted our customers as well. From 1992 to 1995, I worked as a contracts specialist in the Customer Support Business Center, where I and my fellow employees worked with many of HP's best customers. This was an area of the company that was critical to HP's long-term success because services were producing higher profit margins than equipment sales.

However, ongoing, multiple reorganizations left customers confused because their employee contacts within the company kept changing, and response times to customer inquiries suffered because there weren't enough people to handle the load. Additionally, outdated, cumbersome, time-consuming software was used to manage our customers' service agreements, leading to still more frustration for both customers and employees alike.

I kept in touch with several of my former coworkers after I left HP in 1995 and, according to them, the problems only got worse. Bad decisions at the top trickled down to both employees and customers, ultimately leading to lowered earnings.

It became clear that a change was needed, and HP brought in Carly Fiorina. Among other accomplishments, she streamlined the bureaucracy within the company and made it easier for customers to get the help they needed. More to the point, Carly took a company that had been significantly diminished by gross mismanagement and turned it around.

Just a few months into her time at HP, the dot-com bubble burst, followed by a major stock market crash. Everything changed. Layoffs, mergers and bankruptcies became the norm. Several of HP's competitors no longer exist.

Carly's critics have tried to blame her for what happened next at HP, but they fail to mention the terrible impact the recession had on companies all over the country, and the fact that HP remained a viable company that employed tens of thousands of American employees while Carly was at the helm. That is far more than you can say for other Silicon Valley companies at that time.

In short, Carly Fiorina is exactly the leader we need in the White House and my family and I are proud to support her.

Tom Ambrose