Former Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard; First Woman to Lead a Fortune 50 Company
Former Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard; First Woman to Lead a Fortune 50 Company
Carly Fiorina is a true leader and a seasoned problem‐solver. She is a passionate, articulate advocate for problem-solving, innovation, and effective leadership. Her mission is to inspire, equip and connect individuals and teams to seize opportunities, face challenges, and accelerate impact in their communities and places of work. She knows that everyone has more potential than they realize, that those closest to the problem understand the problem best, and that leading to unlock the potential in others and actually solve problems can result in both progress and joy.
Carly shares her leadership experience and approach to problem-solving in a variety of ways. In addition to her regular speeches to students, businesses and non-profits, she is the founder and Chairman of Carly Fiorina Enterprises, and 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. On By Example, a leadership podcast, Carly and her team use the experiences, stories and lessons from innovators and problem-solvers to teach practical, real-world solutions to challenges many listeners face.
Carly’s experience spans from secretary to CEO, from public to private, and from for-profit to non-profit. She started out as a secretary for a nine-person real-estate business and eventually became the first woman ever to lead a Fortune 50 company. When Carly was recruited to lead Hewlett Packard (HP) in 1999, the industry was facing the worst technology recession in 25 years. Under Carly’s leadership, revenue grew, innovation tripled, growth quadrupled, and HP became the 11th largest company in the U.S.
During her tenure at HP, the company received numerous civic recognitions, including being named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics Magazine, one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother Magazine, receiving a 100% rating by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, and being named one of the World’s Most Respected Companies by The Financial Times and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
After leaving HP, Carly focused her efforts on giving back. Prior to Unlocking Potential, she served as the Chairman of Good360, the world’s largest product philanthropy organization, and as Chairman of Opportunity International, a Christian-based organization that lifts millions out of poverty around the globe through micro-finance. She also founded the One Woman Initiative in partnership with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to engage and empower women in Pakistan, Egypt, India and the Philippines through increased access to economic opportunity.
Carly was appointed by President Bush and CIA Director Michael Hayden to serve as the Chairman of the External Advisory Board of the CIA after 9/11. In this capacity, she held the highest clearances available to a civilian, and focused her efforts on CIA recruitment policies, information technology capabilities and organizational integration.
In 2015, Carly launched a campaign for President. Running as a political outsider, Carly spoke about empowering and engaging citizens to take back government from a political ruling class that has failed to deliver results. There, many more Americans came to know her as a clear-eyed, direct leader capable of actually solving problems.
Carly is also a best-selling author. Her titles include Tough Choices and Rising to the Challenge. Her third book Find Your Way is out now.
In February 2019, Carly and The Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America began an academic partnership. Carly was appointed the Distinguished Clinical Professor in Leadership and together they are integrating Carly’s leadership and problem-solving curriculum into the business student experience.
She and her husband, Frank, have been happily married for 34 years. They reside in northern Virginia near their daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters.
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.
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 dot.com 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.
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.
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.
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.