Friday, August 9, 2013

Meg Whitman's Unique Place of Power in Business

Of all the powerful executives pledging to take a $1 yearly salary, Margaret “Meg” Whitman was the sole female who took a significant pay cut to help balance the inequality between high-flying executive pay and the average worker.

She joined top CEOs from famous companies, such as Steve Jobs from Apple; Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt from Google; John Chambers from Cisco Systems; and Larry Ellison from Oracle.

Her pledge to the cause is just one of the reasons why Whitman is one of the most significant female business leaders in current times. The fact that she was invited to join the group in the first place belies her power as a forward-thinking CEO who has helmed significant Fortune 500 companies.

Though it still remains true that women are relatively scarce in the upper echelons of business, Whitman has secured a position that is unique, in that she is ranked amongst the very top level of CEOs in the world.  She is currently 15th on Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, despite existing in a world that is significantly overshadowed by CEOs who are predominantly male.

Whitman has managed to carve herself a niche as a driven CEO who works hard to streamline companies until they succeed. Starting at The Walt Disney Company, she oversaw strategic planning during the 1980s, a role that led her to become an executive for DreamWorks, Hasbro and Procter & Gamble.

Her major coup came when she became President and CEO of eBay, between 1998 and 2008. Her decade-long tenure was immensely successful. A company of just 30 employees expanded to over 15,000, and a revenue of $4 million turned into a staggering $8 billion.

It is not surprising, then, that she has been recruited to turn around Hewlett-Packard. The technology giant has diminished in its influence over the past few years, but with Whitman at the helm the company should reverse this trend. Her focus on cutting down on unnecessary spending to generate savings appears to be paying off already, judging by the statistics for this year.

It is clear that Meg Whitman enjoys a position far beyond the large majority of women in business. The salient point, however, is that she has gained a position far beyond some of her male peers, making her uniquely powerful in the technology world. It seems almost certain that she will continue to forge beyond expectations in her latest role at Hewlett-Packard.