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Whitman says it will take five years to turn HP around

January 10th, 2013 at 6:00 PM
HP CEO Whitman

To understand what an unholy mess HP (HPQ) is in right now, consider that CEO Meg Whitman says she needs more time to fix the company than she would have had to fix the entire California economy if she’d been elected governor. In a long Businessweek article about HP’s current turmoil, Whitman says that it will take her five years to execute her full plan to turn the company around. Whitman acknowledges that “some people don’t like that answer” when they ask her how long it will take, but she says it’s simply a reality at this point.

In the meantime, Whitman is trying to promote a new culture of thrift at the company by booting executives out of their plush office suites and forcing them to work in cubicles, Businessweek reports. Whitman tells the publication that she doesn’t want HP to be “a fancy pants kind of company” and that she aims to be more like the Marriott than the Four Seasons.

Whitman also touches upon HP’s future plans for smartphones by saying the company will produce one in the future as soon as “we… figure out how to do it without losing a boatload of money.” And it’s not as though HP can simply acquire a struggling smartphone vendor like Nokia (NOK) or RIM (RIMM) at the moment since the company is woefully short on cash after writing off more than $17 billion last year related to past acquisitions.

But despite being completely clear-eyed about HP’s woes, Whitman still insists that she’s having more fun running the company than she’d had running for public office.

“Running for political office was the hardest thing I have ever done,” Whitman tells Businessweek. “When things seem challenging here, I go back to that.”

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