Former Chairman & CEO of Hewlett-Packard,
First Woman to Lead a Fortune 20 Company
Carly Fiorina is a true leader and a seasoned problem‐solver. She is a passionate, articulate advocate for problem-solving, innovation, and effective leadership. Her mission is to inspire, equip and connect individuals and teams to seize opportunities, face challenges, and accelerate impact in their communities and places of work. She knows that everyone has more potential than they realize, that those closest to the problem understand the problem best, and that leading to unlock the potential in others and actually solve problems can result in both progress and joy.
Carly shares her leadership experience and approach to problem-solving in a variety of ways. In addition to her regular speeches to students, businesses and non-profits, she is the founder and Chairman of Carly Fiorina Enterprises, and of Unlocking Potential, a non-profit organization that invests in human potential by supporting local leaders who are solving problems in their communities and places of work; equipping them with the behaviors, characteristics, disciplines and tools to increase their leadership and problem-solving capacity. On By Example, a leadership podcast, Carly and her team use the experiences, stories and lessons from innovators and problem-solvers to teach practical, real-world solutions to challenges many listeners face.
Carly’s experience spans from secretary to CEO, from public to private, and from for-profit to non-profit. She started out as a secretary for a nine-person real-estate business and eventually became the first woman ever to lead a Fortune 50 company. When Carly was recruited to lead Hewlett Packard (HP) in 1999, the industry was facing the worst technology recession in 25 years. Under Carly’s leadership, revenue grew, innovation tripled, growth quadrupled, and HP became the 11th largest company in the U.S.
During her tenure at HP, the company received numerous civic recognitions, including being named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Business Ethics Magazine, one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother Magazine, receiving a 100% rating by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, and being named one of the World’s Most Respected Companies by The Financial Times and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
After leaving HP, Carly focused her efforts on giving back. Prior to Unlocking Potential, she served as the Chairman of Good360, the world’s largest product philanthropy organization, and as Chairman of Opportunity International, a Christian-based organization that lifts millions out of poverty around the globe through micro-finance. She also founded the One Woman Initiative in partnership with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to engage and empower women in Pakistan, Egypt, India and the Philippines through increased access to economic opportunity.
Carly was appointed by President Bush and CIA Director Michael Hayden to serve as the Chairman of the External Advisory Board of the CIA after 9/11. In this capacity, she held the highest clearances available to a civilian, and focused her efforts on CIA recruitment policies, information technology capabilities and organizational integration.
In 2015, Carly launched a campaign for President. Running as a political outsider, Carly spoke about empowering and engaging citizens to take back government from a political ruling class that has failed to deliver results. There, many more Americans came to know her as a clear-eyed, direct leader capable of actually solving problems.
Carly is also a best-selling author. Her titles include Tough Choices and Rising to the Challenge. Her third book Find Your Way is out now.
Distinguished Clinical Professor
In February 2019, Carly and The Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America began an academic partnership. Carly was appointed the Distinguished Clinical Professor in Leadership and together they are integrating Carly’s leadership and problem-solving curriculum into the business student experience.
She and her husband, Frank, have been happily married for 34 years. They reside in northern Virginia near their daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters.
Secretary to CEO: A Story of True Leadership
Solving problems, effectively empowering employees, and driving results are not easy tasks, but they are required of leaders. As CEO of the world’s first $100 billion information technology company, Carly Fiorina is all too familiar with the complex, difficult path of leadership – and the far-reaching strategic decisions that must be made with finesses and fortitude. She has grappled with many of these same tensions and faced these same challenges. A passionate leader who made tough choices to grow her organizations, Carly delivers a powerful, pragmatic presentation on how leaders can be clear-eyed about their current state, optimistic about their future, and deliberate about getting the results they want. Carly began her business career as a secretary and ultimately became the first woman to lead a FORTUNE 50 company, as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She made this journey by solving the problems in front of her and unlocking the potential of those around her. She passionately believes that leaders are made, not born, and that leadership potential exists at every level of every organization. “Anyone can lead, at any time, from anywhere. Leadership is not about title, position, or power. It is about making a positive difference.”
Building a High Performance Culture
As the CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina tackled issues of strategic focus, product innovation, and mergers and integration – all during the dot.com boom and bust and the worst technology recession in 25 years. She recognized that, if the company was going to survive, she had to transform the complacent culture at HP into a dynamic, innovative environment that would allow the company to become the industry leader. This successful transformation was driven by Carly’s solid management philosophy, commitment to building a diverse team, and a set of proven tools and practices.
Unlocking Potential: Building Leaders at Every Level
Carly has spent her life building leaders and problem-solvers in nearly every context, including for-profits, non-profits, faith-based-communities, and academia. As the CEO of Hewlett Packard, the chair of two internationally-recognized non-profits, and a trusted advisor of executives around the world, she has inspired and empowered diverse groups for decades. She recognizes that leadership is not about how impressive your title is or how big your office is – but how you effectively solve problems and unlock the potential of those around you. Today’s workforce is increasingly interested in accessing regular growth and development through their professional communities, and companies in every industry are continuing to explore how to meet those demands. Carly delivers a powerful presentation that inspires, empowers, and connects employees at every level. She introduces her proven leadership philosophy, which is based on a set of human behaviors and characteristics of leadership (traits that everyone can develop and deploy), as well as a set of practical, accessible tools that enable effective problem-solving.