At 6:30 AM PST, newly appointed (he officially starts on Friday) Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd met for the first time with his new executive staff (at least for now) and then met with and took questions from the press for a half hour. [Watch some of the press conference highlights]
After a seven-week process, during which he campaigned for the job and read everything in the public domain he could about the company, Hurd talked about his goals for HP during the press conference as he prepared to take over the reigns at the end of week. In his opening remarks, he paid homage to HP's founders David Packard and Bill Hewlett, pronounced the company "fundamentally sound."
He wisely said that he wasn't going to pass judgment on the past few years, and was only concerned about the future. And, he promptly addressed the question of spinning out the lucrative imaging division by saying that he needed to evaluate the situation before jumping to a conclusion. He said that his employment agreement has no pre-conditions that would prevent him from taking such action, but for now he would stay focused on the strategy "we do have."
After Fiorina's contentious reign and years with little stock appreciation, HP's board was looking for a hands-on operator to focus on the numbers and align the organization and its businesses for growth. Hurd seems to fit the bill. The former tennis pro and 25-year NCR veteran paints himself a team player (no outsized ego) and is focused on ensuring employee assignments and missions are clear and measurable. "Building great companies isn't all about the CEO--it's a team sport. HP has great folks and I expect a lot of help and will approach this as a team exercise," Hurd said.
What was encouraging and refreshingly straightforward was his take on motivating employees. "What drives morale in any division or company is being part of the winning team. People want to win. That's the number one value proposition," Hurd said. HP executives who met Hurd earlier in the morning offer the expected bland, early assessments. Shane Robison, executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer, said that Hurd seemed "dedicated to operating as part of team." Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's newly formed Imaging and Personal Systems Group (who was reportedly considered as an internal candidate for the CEO job), said, "We all want to win."
Board chairwoman Patty Dunn and CFO Bob Wayman as well as Hurd didn't specify any timetable or metrics today associated with the 'winning' strategy. "It will take less than six months [for Hurd] to get at home in the culture. That's the precondition of everything else," Dunn said. "Mark is very much a fan of performance metrics, and we like the establishment of logical performance metrics to monitor that success....This is a marathon we're running and not a sprint."
During his initial quarter at the helm, Hurd said he would be listening to employees, partners, customer and investors to get a handle on the company and its markets, with a goal of improving operations, creating demand for HP's products and driving growth. "You won't find me doing anything tricky," Hurd said in reference how he will evaluate HP's businesses. He said he would evaluate each division differently, based on their unique dynamics, business models and growth opportunities.
Hurd addressed the question of whether the path to operational efficiency would be littered with layoffs. "It's always an issue when you try to optimize performance. We will look at the entire enterprise. You can become more efficient in different dimensions, and we will look at entire enterprise. There is no guarantee, but I will be relentless on developing operational efficiency."
Hurd's influence will likely first manifest itself in accelerating the process of gaining efficiencies and establishing performance metrics for each division. Mike Winker told me Hurd will bring a new intensity to HP's operations. As examples of where more efficiency is needed, Winkler cited the enterprise division's cost structure, which he termed