HP Strategist: CEO Whitman's Five-Year Commitment Is Key

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HP CEO Meg Whitman has made a five-year commitment to remain at the company as part of her ambitious bid to pull off what could be one of the great turnarounds in corporate history.

That was the inside word from HP Chief Strategy Officer Mohamad Ali Tuesday in an address before an estimated 150 partners and customers at an HP Printing and Personal Systems Group "Engage" road show at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, Mass.

"Meg has made a commitment to the company. She said 'I am here for five years. I am going to work for a dollar a year,'" said Ali, who joined HP as top strategist just five months ago. "Lots of equity if the company actually performs. But a dollar a year. And, we are going to take this company over five years back to incredible greatness."


[Related: Whitman: No Smartphones In 2013, But HP Will Tussle In Tablets]

In an interview after his address, Ali told CRN that he asked Whitman specifically about the five-year commitment when he joined the company. In fact, he said he turned down a job for a $100 billion company and instead took the job with HP because of Whitman's commitment to technology innovation.

"I actually asked Meg, 'Are you in this [for the long term]?'" said Ali, the former CEO of Aspect Software and a former IBM strategist who led the charge on a number of high-profile IBM acquisitions including Cognos. "At the time, there was some concern that, depending how the [presidential] election goes, she might end up in the cabinet or in government. She was very clear to me when I spoke to her that she is in this for the long haul. She has now repeated publicly that she is in this for five years."

Whitman, who took over as HP CEO and president in September 2011, is firmly focused on restoring HP's legacy as technology innovator, said Ali, who reports to HP Chief Operating Officer Bill Veghte.

Ali said HP's strategy can be summed up succinctly in one word: Innovation. "HP Invent is back," he asserted. "Meg laid that down very clearly the day she joined."

HP executives said Whitman has stepped in and recast some products to assure that the company's new products meet the innovative litmus test. At the Engage road show, HP showed off, among other offerings, its new ElitePad 900 Windows 8 Tablet, which is slated to ship Jan. 21, and its HP M575c multifunction color printer, which will be outfitted starting in March with Autonomy capture management software. The Autonomy software has been updated with a new interface and renamed HP Flow CM (Capture Management) and will be priced starting at $20 per user. "We have the strongest product lineup we have had in a long, long time, " said Ali.

NEXT: HP's Top Strategist Talks About HP's Moonshot Server Project

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