Hewlett-Packard's choice of a 44-year-old outsider as its new CEO wasry. hailed by analysts last week as a bold move by the traditionally conservative firm.
The selection of Carleton "Carly" Fiorina for the top job was described as "a very strong catch for HP" by Andy Butler, research director at Gartner Group.
"Nothing will change immediately under her leadership," Butler told PC Week, "but she has already hinted at reconsidering the PC business and evaluating HP's decentralised structure. These are fairly radical moves."
He added: "It is a bold decision to put her at the helm, although her track record is outstanding. She's only 44, but she shows every sign of having the vision to take HP successfully into the future."
She was dubbed the most powerful woman in US business last year by Fortune magazine, but even that article said few readers would recognise her name.
After five months of searching, the decision to offer the vacancy to Fiorina was made by HP's board of directors last week. She will be the first woman to head a leading international computer company and the first person from outside the company to be appointed to the top job in HP's 60-year history.
"I hope this shatters once and for all the notion that there is a glass ceiling or the stereotype that women cannot be successful in high-tech companies," Fiorina said after the announcement.
Fiorina, whose business acumen took her from a low-level job at AT&T to heading Lucent's global service provider business, said she hopes to breathe new life into the world's second-largest computer maker.
She headed Lucent's 1996 flotation and spin-off from AT&T and was also closely involved with Lucent's acquisition of Ascend. Under her leadership, Lucent's growth outside the US accelerated from 8% to more than 60% a year.
Former HP CEO Lewis Platt, who announced his decision to step down in February, will remain chairman until retiring on 31 December. Richard Hackborn, a former HP executive and a current member of the board of directors, will become non-executive chairman.
One of Fiorina's first duties will be to head the spin-off of HP's measurement equipment to create a new company to be run by HP veteran Edward Barnholt.
This will leave Fiorina as head of HP's computing operations.
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