Meet five Canadians who should be on HP’s CEO short list

Five Canadians that should be in the running

With the resignation of Mark Hurd as CEO of Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ), speculation is rampant as to who will succeed him at the helm of the technology giant.

Many names are being bandied about, from internal candidates to executives from HP competitors in a range of markets.

As HP’s board of directors puts together their short list, here are five Canadian IT leaders that should be given serious consideration.

We’ll also give you five Canucks that likely won’t make the short-list, but would still be interesting outside of the box choices.

by Jeff Jedras, CDN

The mighty has fallen

The sudden resignation of Mark Hurd as HP CEO took the IT industry by surprise, following an investigation into claims that he sexually harassed a former contractor to the company.

The investigation found that Hurd didn’t violate HP’s sexual harassment policy but he did violate HP’s standards of business conduct, relating to contracting and expenses.

Jodie Fisher, a former actress, released a statement through her attorney naming herself as the person who made the sexual harassment claim, and expressing regret over Hurd’s resignation. The marketing consultant’s credits include the NBC reality show Age of Love.

Shona L. Brown, Google

HP has had a strong woman at the helm before, and a worthy successor to the legacy of Carly Fiorina would definitely be Google executive and Carleton University graduate Shona L. Brown.

Brown joined Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) in 2003 and is currently senior vice-president, business operations, although Fortune described her as Google’s “chief chaos officer” for her work bringing management, process and direction to the little search engine that could.

After earning her bachelor in computer systems engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa, the Rhodes Scholar added an MA from Oxford and a PhD from Stanford.

If the first job of a CEO is to ensure a well-managed, focused company, this Canadian with a background in management consulting could be the right choice for a modern HP that straddles personal and enterprise computing, storage, mobility and networking.

Stephen Elop, Microsoft

There are few companies that come close to playing in as many different segments of the IT industry as HP does, but one of them is Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). That’s why HP’s board would be wise to consider Canadian Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s business division, as their next CEO.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and management from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Elop has climbed the ranks of the IT industry, holding senior leadership positions with Macromedia, Adobe and Juniper Networks before he joined Microsoft.

Elop joined Microsoft’s senior leadership team in 2008, and in this role oversees the Information Worker, Microsoft Business Solutions and Unified Communications Groups.

A passionate hockey fan who cheered on Team Canada’s men’s hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics, this Canadian may just be ready to go for the gold with HP.

Don Morrison, Research in Motion

With it’s acquisition of Palm, HP wants to be a big player in mobility. But their main target won’t be consumers; it will be the business users whose companies are already major HP customers.

So if you want to make a play in enterprise mobility, why not poach a senior executive from the industry leader: Research in Motion?

RIM COO Don Morrison would certainly fit the bill. He holds an MBA and a BA from the University of Toronto, and participated in the executive program at the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School. Before joining RIM in 2000, he held senior leadership positions in Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East with AT&T and Bell Canada.

Morrison would be a good pick to make sure HP’s mobility strategy is aligned to the needs of the enterprise market, and this Canadian is ready for bigger challenges.

John Swainson, formerly of CA Technologies

This may be a time when HP needs an experienced, steady, veteran manager at the helm. And there are few more experienced IT executives on the market right now than Canadian John Swainson.

Swainson stepped down last year after five years as CEO of CA Technologies, steering the company through troubled times and getting it back on track after several scandals rocked the company. His impressive resume also boasts 26 years with IBM, and he’s no stranger to serving on corporate boards.

While this holder of a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Engineering from the University of British Columbia is slowing-down a bit now, he’s keeping one foot in the world of IT with venture capital firm Silverlake Partners.

If HP is looking for a powerful combination of engineering smarts and management experience, and if Swainson is looking for one more challenge to cap an already impressive career, we could see this Canadian on the short list.

Paul Tsaparis of Hewlett Packard

When it comes to Canadians that should be on HP’s short list, they need look no further than within the company itself to Paul Tsaparis, who headed HP Canada before heading to the U.S. recently to be the vice-president of technology support for HP’s Americas region enterprise business.

The holder of an undergraduate degree in economics and science from the University of Toronto, he also has an MBA from York University, and was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 in 1998.

He may be younger than some of the other executives on this list, but Tsaparis is a proven leader and an HP veteran. If HP wants to embrace a new generation of leadership, this Canadian could be their man.

Outside the Box: Jim Estill

If HP wants to turn to an IT industry veteran and a proven manager, it should find itself turning to former Synnex Canada and EMJ Data Systems CEO Jim Estill.

A University of Waterloo graduate, Estill founded EMJ and grew it into a $300 million business before it was acquired by Synnex, going on to run Synnex Canada. He was early to bring Apple and Acer into distribution, and was an early investor who saw the potential of Research in Motion. He still sits on RIM’s board.

We don’t know what Estill is up to since he left Nu Horizons, but if HP is looking for a proven manager with a record of being ahead of the curve, they couldn’t do better than this Canadian.

Outside the box: Rob Lloyd

HP’s long-time partnership with Cisco Systems turned into fierce competition as the two companies began to butt heads and overlap markets in the data centre. HP’s acquisition of 3Com will only heighten the competition with Cisco and the importance of HP’s networking play, so why not poach an executive from Cisco to lead the charge?

As Cisco’s executive vice-president of worldwide operations, Lloyd is a 15-year Cisco veteran with his finger on the pulse of Cisco’s global strategy. He joined Cisco in 1994 as general manager of the Canadian subsidiary, and holds a bachelor of commerce from the University of Manitoba.

It would be unlikely HP would hire Lloyd because of the animosity between the two companies. However, this Canadian would give HP instant credibility in a growth segment that’s very important to the company’s future success.

Outside the Box: Greg Spierkel

With HP increasingly becoming a company that plays in many different markets, having a CEO that has experience running a company with that challenge would be a benefit. That sounds like broadline distribution, and that sounds like Ingram Micro CEO Greg Spierkel.

With an undergraduate degree from Carleton University and an MBA from Georgetown, Spierkel spent 11 years at Mitel Corp., then a Canadian technology powerhouse, and Bell Canada before moving to Ingram Micro. After stints in Europe and Asia-Pacific, Spierkel became president in 2004 and CEO in 2005.

After five years leading Ingram Micro, this Canadian may be looking for new challenges and, while Spierkel may be an outside the box pick for HP, his international experience running a company with its fingers in a lot of technology pies would be a real asset.

Outside the Box: Carol Stephenson

There are few more experienced managers of IT companies that HP could turn to than Carol Stephenson, who is currently serving as Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.

After getting her education at the University of Toronto, the University of California at Berkley and Harvard Business School, Stephenson’s resume includes a rapid ascent into the management ranks of Bell Canada, president and CEO of Stentor Resource Centre Inc. and president of Lucent Technologies Canada from 1999 to 2003, where she tripled Lucent’s market share through the downturn.

Following seven years helping to shape the next generation of Canadian business leaders, if HP can think outside of the box it may be able to lure Stephenson back for one final challenge.

Outside the Box: Nick Tidd

In a perfect world, Nick Tidd would be on the main list, not the short list because there is so much about his experience and skills that make him an ideal pick to be HP’s next CEO.

On the top of that list is the fact that he used to run 3-Com’s worldwide go-to-market, as well as its Canadian subsidiary. With 3Com now in the HP fold, few know that business better. D-Link has recognized Tidd’s talent, quickly promoting him from Canadian general manager and North American channel lead to president of North America. Now he’s poised to take D-Link head-to-head with HP and Cisco in networking.

An experienced executive who has found success wherever he has gone, this Canadian would probably be an outside of the box pick for HP but Tidd could be just what this company needs to become a fierce competitor once more.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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