Convocation Keynote Address (2)
Carly Fiorina, SM '89, Former Chairman and CEO
Hewlett-Packard; Author, Tough Choices
Description: To hear her tell it, Carly Fiorina's year at the Sloan School proved pivotal to her education and career. She was "constantly running into brilliant people, faculty and students, which was both inspiring and intimidating." As a mid-career professional, she found the program "extremely rigorous," and "worried about every grade and test." This challenging atmosphere was due in no small part to the fact that Sloan was part of MIT, "an institution that celebrates discipline and hard work." Fiorina reads down a list of courses from her MIT transcript, noting that in Applied Economics, where she was "stressed to the max," game theory taught her that "people could do irrational things simply because they thought someone else might behave irrationally." And in Organizational Psychology, she "role-played through difficult negotiation sessions, and watched how rational well-meaning people could devolve incredibly quickly into 'I win, you lose' negotiating patterns."
Fiorina pinpoints several critical aspects of her experience. MIT Sloan values balance and "exposure to all disciplines," she notes. So while she took intensely quantitative courses, she also did readings in power and responsibility, including Zen and the Art of Archery. MIT Sloan emphasized collaboration, and Fiorina learned that "value is created at the boundaries between disciplines." This is a lesson, remarks Fiorina, with a great deal of relevance for a CEO, and for those in charge during such crises as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, when problems "cannot be solved simply through vertical chains of command." The ultimate take-home point for Fiorina, gained on her last day, was that "success and life are not a destination but a journey, and every step, even the hard ones, are important."
About the Speaker(s): Carleton S. (Carly) Fiorina was President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard Company from 1999 to 2005. She served as Chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2005. Prior to joining HP, Fiorina spent nearly 20 years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies. The Private Sector Council honored Fiorina with its 2004 Leadership Award for her contributions to improving the business of government. Also in 2004, the White House appointed her to the U.S. Space Commission. Fiorina earned a bachelor's degree in medieval history and philosophy from Stanford University. She holds a master's degree in business administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland, and a Master's Degree from MIT Sloan in 1989.
Host(s): Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
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