Magazine article Newsweek

In a League of Her Own: There's No Glass Ceiling for Carleton Fiorina, Now the Nation's Highest-Ranking Female Executive

Magazine article Newsweek

In a League of Her Own: There's No Glass Ceiling for Carleton Fiorina, Now the Nation's Highest-Ranking Female Executive

Article excerpt

No doubt about it: Carly Fiorina runs a good meeting. Six months ago, a small group of executives at Lucent Technologies gathered in her office to celebrate a third straight year of record profits. "So, where do we go from here?" she asked, amid the good-natured banter. "I know you won't want to rest on your laurels." It was a telling demonstration of her leadership, according to one of those present. The boss didn't say, "Great job, but I'm not satisfied." Instead, it was: "You're wonderful, and I know you want to do even better."

Hewlett-Packard, struggling to find its way in the Internet age, also wants to "do even better." That's why it snared Fiorina last week to be its new chief executive. She was already one of the most powerful women in corporate America, president of the global services group at Lucent, the $30 billion telecom giant. But her appointment as head of mighty HP, the world's second-largest computermaker and the 13th-biggest company in the country, puts her into a league of her own. No wonder her face was all over the business pages: the 44-year-old exec is the first woman to head a Fortune 100 company, and one of only three in the entire top 500. Many hailed the news as a victory for equal opportunity in the workplace; Fiorina herself shrugged off the gender question. Women, she told reporters bluntly, face "no limits whatsoever. There is not a glass ceiling."

Right or not, Fiorina clearly has never been bounded by limits. The iconoclastic daughter of an abstract painter and a California judge, she graduated from Stanford with a degree in medieval history, dropped out of law school after concluding she was averse to precedents, then began working her way through the male-dominated ranks of AT&T. …

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