Carly Fiorina

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Former Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard; First Woman to Lead a Fortune 50 Company

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Carly Fiorina: Biography at a Glance

  • Carly Fiorina is the former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 company.
  • Carly’s experience spans from secretary to CEO, from public to private, and from for-profit to non-profit. Under Carly’s leadership, HP's revenue grew, innovation tripled, growth quadrupled, and HP became the 11th largest company in the U.S.
  • She is a member of the newly-formed American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy, which is focused on those actions necessary to improve citizens’ confidence in American elections.
  • As one of the most high-profile business leaders in the world, both government and the private sector have sought out her vast problem-solving, team-building, and leadership experience. 
  • Carly passionately believes in the power of people to transform organizations and change the world. From the stage, Carly shares her proven leadership playbook that anyone can apply to transform their own business with keynotes that outline tools and strategies that facilitate growth, teamwork and effective problem solving.
  • She is the founder and chairman of Unlocking Potential, a non-profit organization that invests in human potential by supporting local leaders who are solving problems in their communities and places of work; equipping them with the behaviors, characteristics, disciplines and tools to increase their leadership and problem-solving capacity.
  • Carly is also a bestselling author, with three books including Tough Choices, Rising to the Challenge, and Find Your Way.



Carly Fiorina began her career as a secretary for a nine-person real estate firm. She climbed the corporate ladder at AT&T and Lucent Technologies through a willingness to tackle tough problems, a relentless focus on producing results and accepting accountability, and a passion for leveraging the talents of others and building high-performance teams.

She was recruited to Hewlett-Packard with a mission to transform the company from a laggard to a leader, becoming the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 company. During her tenure as Chair and CEO, Hewlett-Packard became the largest technology company in the world, innovation tripled, cash flow quadrupled, and revenue and profit growth accelerated.

Both government and the private sector have sought out her vast problem-solving, team-building, and leadership experience. She has advised the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. She founded Carly Fiorina Enterprises to bring her expertise to private sector teams, and the Unlocking Potential Foundation to allow those in the social sector to benefit from her experience. She is the author of three best-selling books on leadership for general audiences, as well as a weekly LinkedIn newsletter with over 500,000 subscribers. She is a frequent speaker to teams and executives of many industries all over the world.

Carly believes that citizens and leaders in civil society have an important role and an enormous opportunity to drive positive change. In 2015, Carly launched a campaign for President. Americans came to know Carly as a clear-eyed, direct leader capable of actually solving problems and delivering results.

She is a member of the newly-formed American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy, which is focused on those actions necessary to improve citizens’ confidence in American elections. She serves as the founding visionary and Executive Chair of The Williamsburg Institute, where history-makers meet. She also serves on the Board of Visitors for James Madison University.

As a student of history and philosophy at Stanford University, Carly first began to appreciate the power of ideas to drive change and the impact of history on the present and future. She believes that a deeper understanding of our nation’s full history, as well as the ideas upon which America was founded is particularly important during the current climate of division, discord, and political dysfunction. She serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation as well as the National Honorary Chair of the Virginia 250 Commission. In both roles, she is focused on ensuring that our nation’s founding is broadly understood, accurately portrayed, and commemorated in an inclusive, accessible way, particularly as we approach the United States Semiquincentennial in 2026.

Developed and honed throughout her experience over decades and around the globe, from the bottom of the ladder to the very top, from the private to the public to the social sector, Carly approaches each challenge with three core beliefs: every individual has more potential than they realize; people closest to the problem know best how to solve it; and the highest calling of leadership is to unlock potential in others and work with them to solve problems and change things for the better. Putting those beliefs to work within the criminal justice system, she is the founder and Chair of Pathway to Promise, an organization that works with justice-involved youth so they can change their world.

She and her husband Frank have been married for almost forty years. They live in Lorton, Virginia, where they are both active members of the community and support numerous local charitable causes. Their daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters live nearby.


From Secretary to CEO: A Transformative Story of Leadershiparrow-down

Solving problems, effectively empowering employees, and driving results are the expectations of today’s leaders, at all levels and in every sector. Carly Fiorina has faced and exceeded each and every one these very challenges as she traveled a diverse professional journey, from secretary to CEO, from public to private, and from for-profit to non-profit. Along this often-difficult path of leadership, she grappled with far-reaching, complex strategic decisions with finesse and fortitude.

In a powerful, pragmatic presentation, Carly shares her transformative career story: from secretary for a nine-person real estate business, to becoming the first woman to lead a FORTUNE 50 company, as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s first $100 billion information technology company.  She delivers reflections and lessons learned from a journey on which she solved the problems in front of her and unlocked the potential of those around her. Based on her own renowned experiences, and with an innate ability to help others reach their highest leadership potential, Carly imparts how leaders can be clear-eyed about their current state, optimistic about their future, and deliberate about getting the results they want.

In Carly’s words, “leaders are made, not born, and leadership potential exists at every level of every organization.”  She knows that everyone has more potential than they realize, that those closest to the problem understand the problem best, and that leadership is not about title, position, or power. It is about making a positive difference, which, ultimately, delivers progress and joy.

Building a High-Performance Culture: Lessons Learned from a High-Profile Assignmentarrow-down

As CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s first $100 billion information technology company, Carly Fiorina successfully tackled complicated business challenges -- strategic focus, product innovation, and mergers and integration – all during the boom and bust and the worst technology recession in 25 years.

The company’s success can be attributed to Carly’s invaluable foresight:  for HP to survive, she had to transform its complacent culture into a dynamic, innovative environment that would enable the company to become the industry leader. In her six years as Chairman and CEO of HP, she would double its revenues to $90 billion; more than quadruple its growth to 9%; triple the rate of innovation to 11 patents a day; achieve market leadership in every market and product category and quadruple cash-flow. This successful transformation was driven by her proven leadership philosophy, commitment to building a diverse team, and execution of proven business tools and practices.

From her renowned leadership of HP, Carly shares her personal account of what it takes to create a high-performance culture. She openly discusses navigating a challenging path filled with hurdles like major acquisition, integration, and transformational change. Moreover, for today’s organizations who are forced to adjust in an incessantly volatile business environment, she provides a blueprint for navigating uncertainty, managing change, and building a high-performance culture – all critical keys to empowering and driving results.

Unlocking Potential: Leaders Exist Everywherearrow-down

Throughout her career, Carly Fiorina has developed leaders and problem solvers in nearly every sector, from for-profits and non-profits, to faith-based communities and academia. As CEO of Hewlett Packard, chair of two internationally recognized non-profits, and a trusted advisor of executives around the world, she has inspired and empowered diverse groups for decades. She believes that leadership is not about an impressive title or possessing the corner office, but about effectively solving problems and unlocking the potential of those around you.

Productive members of today’s workforce are increasingly interested in professional growth and development through their surrounding communities, and companies in every industry must provide the tools and resources to meet these very practical needs and foster tomorrow’s leaders. Based on her work leading the Unlocking Potential Foundation, a non-profit organization that invests in human potential by supporting local leaders who are solving problems in their communities and places of work, Carly delivers a powerful presentation that inspires, empowers, and connects employees at every level.

She shares her proven leadership philosophy, which is based on a set of human behaviors and characteristics that everyone can develop and deploy, as well as a set of practical, accessible tools that enable effective problem-solving.

Diversity in Today’s Workplace: More than a Nice-to-Have; It’s a Must-Havearrow-down

Today, more than ever, a successful workplace must be comprised of teams with innovative, diverse perspectives who are empowered to solve their sector’s most challenging problems. Ethnically diverse organizations are 35% more likely to outperform their peers, and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. But, traditional diversity training is unlikely to foster such a productive environment; instead, effective team building requires an innovative approach based on real-world experience.

During her long career, Carly Fiorina shattered the glass ceiling by cultivating diverse teams, from top to bottom. She achieved success and solved the critical problems directly ahead of her only by surrounding herself with a myriad of perspectives and empowering her diverse teams to drive real change.

Carly’s commanding presentation on diversity is built on her direct experience and personal knowledge that, to grow, learn, and solve tough problems, you must invite new perspectives to the table. Diversity is absolutely a must-have for your bottom line, and you have to role model that belief for your team: you must hold yourself and your team to a higher standard, and you must be challenged.

Learning from Our Past: Linking History to Todayarrow-down

History can and should be strategically leveraged to help us navigate today’s extremely turbulent times.

Instead, too often, we romanticize history, confusing nostalgia for the real thing. Or, we compartmentalize the past and focus only on those aspects that serve a particular rhetorical or political purpose. Sometimes, we even place historic figures on a lofty pedestal that renders them both un-human and un-real, and we cannot expect to emulate what is out of reach.

But, when we combine knowledge and experience about what works in the real world with the principles and ideals upon which our country was founded, then change is possible. This interplay between practicality and ideals is America’s story; practicality and idealism are our gifts to the world.

It’s imperative that we distill practical, real-world fundamentals from our founding ideals of the past, and apply to our present.

With her deep understanding of history, Carly Fiorina offers an insightful assessment of how to, and what we can learn from, our past. She connects historic events and figures to the current complex issues confronting both our nation and the world. This speaking platform is exhibited in her keynote address for the American Evolution Forum that commemorated the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English colony in North America.

Carly surpassed our expectations - her message was powerful and resonated with our clients who are struggling to rebuild their practices after COVID significantly disrupted our industry. She took the time to understand our unique needs as an organization and our audience’s struggles. This allowed her to tailor her message in a way that connected with our customers and executives and gave them actionable insights they could apply in practice immediately.

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