Meg Whitman’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise may be coming to an end, but Antonio Neri’s stint as her successor will begin on February 1.
And after a tumultuous era in which Whitman oversaw a series of massive corporate restructurings and sweeping job reductions as she cut costs and split the prior Hewlett-Packard into two companies in 2015, Neri ascends from within — a long-time HPE executive and its current president who is the technologist that Whitman believes the company now needs at the top.
“The next CEO needs to be a deeper technologist,” Whitman told Fortune recently after breaking news of her departure from Hewlett-Packard leadership after six years. “That is exactly what Antonio is.”
Neri told Chief Executive that “as a 22-year veteran of HPE, I bring a deep understanding of our people, technology, strategy and customers that positions me to [take] advantage of my experience across the organization and my partnership with Meg to realize the opportunity in front of us in a seamless way that leverages the very best of HPE.”
“We are at an inflection point at which technology will enable us to unlock data in unprecedented ways, allowing us to solve business and societal challenges and find new opportunities that we can’t even conceive of today.” – Antonio Neri
Not long after a 10-year stint as CEO of eBay, and immediately after running unsuccessfully for governor of California as a Republican, Whitman came into Hewlett-Packard in 2011. She recently called it an “enormous conglomerate” at the time that confused customers because it sold too many disparate products, from printers to software to servers. It also was top-heavy with management and with hardware resources at the time that cloud computing and the pay-as-you-go model of digital access threatened to leave Hewlett-Packard a dinosaur.
Whitman made some tough calls including not only splitting the huge company but also spinning off smaller operations and executing a financial overhaul. And while she left HPE arguably a shadow of its former self, Whitman’s conviction is that her efforts created a company that retains long-term viability and, while smaller, is nimbler.
“Even as a smaller, focused company,” Neri told Chief Executive, “HPE is a global technology leader.” Now Neri with his technology credentials ascends to pick up where Whitman left off and “deliver the next generation of technology, software and services that will power the data-driven enterprise of the future. We will deliver innovations that enable organizations to seamlessly navigate and unlock data in today’s complex environment.”
He said that “we are at an inflection point at which technology will enable us to unlock data in unprecedented ways, allowing us to solve business and societal challenges and find new opportunities that we can’t even conceive of today.”
In that regard, he said, HPE’s strategy “is to make hybrid IT simple, power the intelligent edge and deliver the services to make it all happen.
“I have spent my entire career in enterprise technology, which has given me the perspective to understand what our customers need and how we need to lead the industry in meeting those needs. I’m confident we have the right strategy, people, partners and technology roadmap to deliver on that promise.”