Cara Carleton "Carly" Fiorina

business executive
Born: 1954
Birthplace: Austin, Texas

Cara Carleton Sneed attended high schools in Ghana, England, North Carolina, and California because her father, a lawyer and later a judge, moved around a lot. She earned a BA in medieval history from Stanford University in 1976, working as a secretary at Hewlett-Packard (HP) one summer. She dropped out of UCLA law school, but later earned an MBA from the University of Maryland and a master of science from MIT. At 25 she got an entry-level job at AT&T. Ten years later Fiorina was the company's first female officer. In another five years she was named head of North American operations. In 1996 she successfully guided the spinoff of AT&T's equipment and research branch, Lucent Technologies, through an initial public stock offering of $3 billion. In 1999 Fiorina became president and CEO of HP, a Fortune 500 company with close to $50 billion in annual sales. A computer maker, HP is the largest business in the country run by a woman. But her initial success at Hewlett-Packard began to falter with the $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer in 2002, referred to by some as “Fiorina's Folly.” The deal was vehemently opposed by the heirs of HP's founders. Fiorina prevailed, but most industry analysts considered the acquisition a mistake, and HP's stock stagnated in the two years following the merger. Fiorina was also been faulted for not fostering HP's long tradition as an innovator. In Feb. 2005, her six-year tenure at Hewlett-Packard ended when she was abruptly ousted.


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