Meg Whitman HP's New CEO: How Do New CEOs Affect GCs?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 22, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Meg Whitman is HP's new CEO.

Hewlett-Packard dismissed former CEO Leo Apotheker on Thursday after 11 months on the job.

Will appointing Whitman, former CEO of eBay, help turn HP around? And what kind of impact will her appointment as chief executive have on the company's workforce - including its legal staff?

General counsels everywhere know that a company's legal strategy is vital. This is why Apple's lawyers are busy filing patent suits, and why companies hire attorneys in the first place. As you well know, GCs are tapped to help formulate and execute business strategies - which often include litigation.

A new CEO will undoubtedly have an effect on the course HP takes with respect to its business strategy. Especially when you consider the crossroads HP is at now. Part of the reason why HP's stock has fallen is that Apotheker recently announced the company would soon be exiting the personal computing market after its failures with the TouchPad tablet and webOS.

Is HP going to redefine itself as an enterprise market provider? Or, will Whitman institute other changes?

Regardless of what Whitman decides, it seems likely that HP needs to head down a new direction. And, this might mean that the internal structure of the company may need some overhaul. Externally, the company may engage in acquisitions or lawsuits that will utilize the company's legal resources.

Whitman at the reins may mean HP's legal staff will receive new projects. Most general counsels would agree that a new CEO ushers in a new era in a company, bringing about changes that will undoubtedly draw in some of the legal staff.

Maybe Meg Whitman, as HP's CEO, will finally turn the company's poor earnings around. But there are lingering doubts. Some analysts are already questioning Whitman's selection, citing her relative inexperience with HP's core business areas. She has not shortage of challenges ahead of her.

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