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Will HP Layoffs Haunt Fiorinas Presidential Bid?

Her story is being pitched as one that is “uniquely American.” Carly Fiorina started her career as a secretary and later ascended to the top ranks of corporate America as the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

Now, Fiorina has an even loftier vision: to run the United States of America. On Monday, she announced her plan to seek the Republican’s nomination for president, joining a select group of women including Hillary Clinton who have strived to make history as the first female in the Oval Office.

“Yes, I am running,” CNN quoted Fiorina as saying on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think I’m the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world; who’s in it.”

In the corporate world, few women have achieved Fiorina’s stature. In 1999, after successes at AT&T’s spinoff Lucent, she became the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 company. Under her leadership as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, the tech powerhouse acquired Compaq Computer Corp., doubled revenues and grew into the 11th-largest U.S. business, according to her website Carly for President.

But her tenure at HP was not without controversy. In 2005, Fiorina – then 50 years old – was forced out of the company. According to an Associated Press article at the time, board members said she failed to cut costs and increase revenues as quickly as the directors had hoped.

Five years later, Fiorina threw her hat into the political ring in an unsuccessful bid to snatch the job that is still held today by Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1993.

While Fiorina’s economic policies may sync with the GOP, she may find it difficult winning the support of Americans who have been bruised by blistering rounds of corporate layoffs. A website that Fiorina didn’t register, carlyfiorina.org, reminds people (with frowning faces) that HP workers lost their jobs under her tenure.

“That’s 30,000 people she laid off. People with families. And what does she say she would have done differently?” the website asks before quoting Fiorina as saying, “I would have done them all faster.” 

In recent years, HP has continued to endure big job cuts in the face of challenging times, which has included falling demand for personal computers. For the three months that ended Jan. 31, 2015, revenues fell 4.7 percent to $26.8 billion. In October, the IT giant announced plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies, including a business (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise) that will provide technology infrastructure, software and services.


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