After critical reports about GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s record as CEO at Hewlett Packard (HP) have surfaced, a senior executive—who worked with Fiorina and remained close with her —is speaking out in her defense exclusively to Breitbart News.
Bill Mutell was at Compaq prior to the merger with HP. “I actually studied Carly closely,” Mutell said, explaining that, at the time, in the late 90’s when HP was looking for a CEO, Compaq—as a competitor—had wanted to do research on who may be chosen and how that would affect Compaq.
“So, I knew a lot about her and her capabilities… before we announced the merger in 2001,” he told Breitbart News. Mutell explained it was after the merger that he really got to know Fiorina.
Mutell—who worked in National Intelligence and spent 24 years as an Army officer—worked closely with Fiorina during the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mutell explained that after September 11th, the government looked to tech companies for technology support and integration of national intelligence enterprise systems.
He said that Fiorina befriended Secretary Tom Ridge because the merger between Compaq and HP, at the time, was considered one of the best practices for putting very complex organizations together.
Mutell explained the merger between the two companies was held up as a model and that, while working with Fiorina, they assisted in putting together DHS in the early days.
“That was all done pro bono because Carly felt the need and responsibility to support the government in the time of crisis,” he said. “I got to see her first-hand on how she ran decisions, how she operated, how she handled her staff, how she deliberated.”
When asked why he believes negative reports about Fiorina’s leadership at HP have surfaced, Mutell told Breitbart News that he believes it is because of “partisan politics” and “people who were at HP who, in their minds, Carly as the outsider would never be successful,” he explained.
This was the cultural battle that was fought during Carly’s tenure where we had a lot of legacy Hewlett Packard employees who were very set in their ways. One thing about Carly is that she asks important questions and the status quo is not something she accepts very well. And when executives tell Carly,
“that’s the way we’ve always done it at HP”—even though those ways are irrelevant or unproductive—Carly does not stand for that. Carly is all about tearing down walls and bureaucracies.
As a leader, Mutell said Fiorina “shapes the future—she doesn’t react to it.”
“Those were really tough times,” he said, explaining HP had many competitors, and, in addition, stocks were low as there was a recession and also at a time during an elongated war.
“Carly’s first priority is to HP’s customers, shareholders, and then its employees,” he added. “In order to make sure that Hewlett Packard could emerge out of this dark period… it required some very important acts of leadership and one of those was to eliminate redundant jobs.”
Mutell said that, as a result of the 30,00 layoffs during Fiorina’s leadership, HP has “over 300,000 employees today.”
He added that people just don’t see it that way, explaining that “even if that decision benefited the company” people don’t care. Some individuals will remain jaded if someone was let go for the betterment of the company.
Mutell addressed an op-ed by Tom Perkins—which was submitted to the New York Times to rebut a previous op-ed that was critical of Fiorina’s time as CEO—but was rejected by the New York Times, which said it doesn’t publish rebuttals. Perkins’s article was instead ran as an ad.
Tom Perkins—an HP board member who voted to fire Fiorina at the time—now regrets his decision and has put his support behind Fiorina’s campaign.
“The fact that Tom—who by the way has changed his opinion on Carly considerably since 2005—to the point where whenever he runs into her from my understanding is he can’t say enough good things about what she did,” shows that, in hindsight, the decisions she made at the time were the right ones, Mutell stated.
“I just think it’s terrible and I think this is just yet another effort to keep another strong emerging leader—this outsider Carly—from getting to the table on the 16th of September in Simi Valley,” he said, of the New York Times not running Perkins’s rebuttal op-ed.
“I’ve been around a lot of leaders in my life. I’ve worked for some very impressive generals and I have to tell you in nearly 40 years of combined military service and working for public companies in senior exec roles—I have never encountered a leader like Carly,” he stated. “She is probably one of the brightest, most articulate, well versed, and engaging leaders I have ever met.”
Mutell said Fiorina is someone with courage, character, capacity, and conviction.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “Not something that Congress or the political class wants to see.”