If the terminology of Meg Whitman's "five-year plan" to transform HP has a Soviet-style feel to it, her clinical elimination of the top lieutenants around her since she took the helm also evokes images of a supreme leader of an absolutist regime.
This is not a criticism: in times of war even liberal democracies vest their leaders with emergency powers or declare martial law. Whitman effectively found herself in the corporate equivalent of emergency rule upon seizing the baton in 2011. HP's share price and reputation was at a low following a string of CEO changes that, in her words, had "caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices and significant executional miscues".
Four of the top lieutenants Whitman paraded on stage at her first global partner conference in February 2012 have now either left or are rumoured to be leaving. IPG boss Vyomesh Joshi was the first to exit just a month later, shortly before Autonomy boss Mike Lynch - who was briefly given a grander job title of executive vice president of HP's Information Management division - left under a cloud.
And now it seems that former PC boss Todd Bradley and former enterprise boss David Donatelli are also being packed off to Siberia, according to a Reuters article.
Bradley and Donatelli, two of HP's most powerful executives, will leave HP in the coming weeks with seven- or even eight-figure payoffs after both being sidelined last year, sources told the news agency. This means Whitman will have disposed of four of the most powerful people around her when she took the helm as she looks to return HP to greatness.
Both Bradley and Donatelli were exited from their roles heading up its PC/printer and enterprise divisions respectively last summer, Bradley to helm HP's Chinese assault and Donatelli to a role identifying early-stage technologies for investment. They have not been seen regularly in HP's offices for months, sources told Reuters, and both are understood to be interviewing for potential jobs.
What this illustrates is that Whitman is willing to dispose of even the biggest of beasts within HP in her quest to ensure its five-year turnaround plan remains on track. Whitman was not happy with the pace of growth at HP's enterprise arm, while Bradley's CV was stained with his dubious achievement of overseeing the ill-fated TouchPad tablet in 2011.
HP may not have overcome all the obstacles that faced Whitman when she took power - it is yet to enter the smartphone game and shows no sign of regaining the PC crown it lost last year to Lenovo. But, judging from HP's share price, which has more than doubled since sinking to a nine-year low in Autumn 2012, Whitman's style of leadership is working.
It's also clear from talking to partners that Whitman is a popular leader in the channel - alongside Michael Dell she is one of the few that finds the time to sit down one-on-one with top partners.
And she certainly seems to have done a lot of the heavy lifting that will allow HP to become an industry super-power once again. Unlike the Soviets, this might just be one five-year plan that comes together.
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