Ralph Whitworth was named Thursday as interim chairman of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s board after its chairman, Ray Lane, stepped down. Whitworth posted an open letter on the personnel changes, which included decisions by John Hammergren and Ken Thompson. They had been nearly ousted two weeks earlier at HP's annual meetings as shareholders are upset by a series of mistakes that have damaged the company's share price.
Here's the text of the open letter Thursday:
HP today announced important changes to its board of directors. Ray Lane has decided to step down as chairman, and he will continue to serve as a director. John Hammergren and Ken Thompson have decided to leave the board, and both directors will continue to serve until the May board meeting. Lastly, I will be serving as chairman of the board, on an interim basis, while a search is conducted for a new chairman.
Each one of our directors considered the results of our recent shareholder meeting and made the personal decision to do what they felt was best for HP. As I have said many times, this board is among the best with which I've worked. Today's announcement is a testament to our chairman's and departing board members' statesmanship and sterling professional standards. They, like all of us, are passionate about moving beyond the challenges of the past few years so we can focus solely on supporting the HP team as Meg (Whitman, the CEO) leads us through this Herculean turnaround.
In the coming months you will see further evolution of our board of directors. We will recruit a world-class chairman to take my place as soon as possible, and we also hope to recruit at least two other outstanding directors before the end of this year. While sooner is better, rest assured we will not allow the rush of time to compromise our focus on recruiting the best of the best.
The firm that I represent, Relational Investors, owns roughly $800 million worth of HP's stock. So, I can assure you that my interests are completely aligned with those of our shareholders. Besides its enviable industry position and unbelievable products and product pipeline, let me tell you why I believe in this company. It comes down to two things — people and leadership.
I have had an opportunity to spend a fair amount of time with people across HP, including speaking with the top 1,100 leaders at their recent leadership meeting. I walk away from every interaction more confident about this company's future. There is a palpable energy and excitement at every level of the company to get our business turned around. I've worked on many, and led a few, similar efforts in my 28-year career, and I can tell you this: one does not find the telltale "green shoots" in financial metrics, graphs and charts, but rather in the eyes, faces, words and actions of people. All turnarounds start and end with people, and I see green shoots every where I turn at HP — it is happening as we speak, and I guarantee you it will be the most satisfying thing in each of our careers to be here, deeply involved, as it unfolds.
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