HP's Hurd: Other execs have his back
It has been a week since Mark Hurd stepped down as CEO of HP following a now-settled sexual harassment claim, expense report violations and code of conduct violations, and the company's board is hard at work finding a successor.
But ask C-suite executives who they think should be CEO of the global computer firm, and one of the top answers may surprise you.
The recruiting firm Cook Associates asked 1000 C-suite technology and financial executives in a survey who should be the next CEO of HP. Of the more than 100 executives who responded, the number one answer was Todd Bradley, the executive vice president of HP's personal systems group, who is widely viewed as the best internal candidate to be Hurd's internal successor.
But tied for second with Ann Livermore, HP's executive vice president of enterprise business, was none other than Mark Hurd himself. Respondents who picked Hurd, Cook Associates said, frequently questioned the HP board's judgment in terminating him.
Assuming these respondents had not received personal calls from Hurd pleading them to speak on his behalf, the results are a view into how executives view ethics violations. The belief that Hurd should still be CEO is a reminder that for many executives, performance trumps all. Hurd's reputation as an operations whiz--the company posted yet another strong quarter today, with an 11% jump in revenues and 6% boost in profits--is unlikely to diminish much in the eyes of his peers, no matter how many dinners he had with an actress/"marketing contractor" or how many expense reports he incorrectly filed.
Perhaps just as startling a finding as Hurd's continued fans is that 75% of the respondents, according to Cook Associates managing director Jeff Leopold, believed the next CEO should come from outside the company. While Leopold argues that's actually low, given the circumstances, I'd argue it's high. If Hurd was really as good as everyone said he was, the company shouldn't have to look externally for its next leader.
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