The new directors are Shumeet Banerji, chief executive officer of Booz & Company; Gary Reiner, former chief information officer of General Electric Company and a current special advisor to private equity firm General Atlantic; Patricia Russo, former chief executive officer of Alcatel-Lucent; Dominique Senequier, chief executive officer of AXA Private Equity; and Meg Whitman, former president and chief executive officer of eBay Inc. The five new directors also will stand for re-election at HP’s next Annual Meeting of Stockholders in March.
Additionally, HP announced that incumbent directors Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan and Lucille Salhany are not standing for re-election at the company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders.
So, how many near billionaires can HP’s board handle? Let’s take a look at each new director.
First, Banerji. These Booz people are seriously competent. The company’s CEO must be fabulous. Banerji has an Indian background and brings European experience to the board—and he’s not on any other boards. So it looks like his first experience sitting on a board will be with HP. Talk about trial by fire! I am sure Lane and Apotheker will manage it very well. Banerji has a Ph.D. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Next, Reiner, 55. We are seeing more and more boards appoint a director who represents “the voice of the customer.” A Harvard Business School grad, Reiner is also on the GE board. He had a strong business career at GE before becoming CIO there. His appointment to the HP board is in line with the trend of tech professionals running increasingly complex IT organizations. He’s well connected.
Russo, 57, is also a director at GM and Merck. This is more of a telecom products, large P&L play. Meanwhile, the Frenchwoman Senequier is one of the top 50 most powerful women. Apotheker is of French origin that rose up in the management ranks of famed Software maker SAP. This may be his nominee on the board. A female running a large private equity fund in France must have beaten more odds than we can imagine.
Most of us are familiar with Whitman, 53, of eBay fame. She’s worth $1.3 billion. How does one even cover D&O insurance for her? HP's online consumer business may be getting a lot of emphasis.
On the upside, HP has five new hyper-qualified people replacing people with lesser resumes—except maybe John Joyce. In terms of diversity, we’ve got three new women, one Caucasian male and one Indian male. Very well done. A couple directors have little or no board experience but this board is clearly filled with people who beat a lot of odds.
The potential downside is adding one net board member, but that’s not a big deal to me. HP is also losing two financial CEO types. Who will be in the weeds checking the books at the board level? A CEO has managed a full P&L is considered financial expert for a board, but there needs to be more CFO DNA in the mix in my opinion.
So what’s the net-net of the board shakeup? I think the changes will have a very positive impact overall. Heavyweights with strategic mindsets and huge, not afraid to speak up.
Kudos to Lane and Apotheker for making these decisions.