Whitman Plans to 'Stay the Course' at HP

Despite her longstanding ties to presidential contender Mitt Romney, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman assured a recent audience that she plans to stick it out with the company for the immediate future.

Whitman's recent losing try for the California governor's office was "the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was tremendously humbling," she told the Simmons Leadership Conference on April 5. After experiencing the rough-and-tumble world of politics, the mixed reaction to her appointment as HP's CEO last September was easy to take, she said.

Thanks to the time she spent in politics, "tough questions don't throw me off my game," Whitman said.

She added that she plans to stay at HP for the long term, no matter what the political arena might bring. Romney was Whitman's boss at Bain & Co. early in her career, and he could conceivably ask her to join his administration should he win in November.

"HP needs consistency more than anything else," she said to spontaneous applause from a large group of HP employees seated together in the audience. "I must stay the course."

As Whitman moves the company forward, she maintains a belief in the importance of setting strategy.

"Strategy is about the art of exclusion, deciding what you're not going to do," she said. "And finally, if something isn't working, then you've got to do something different. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake."

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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