Carly Fiorina has formally thrown her hat into the ring as Republican presidential candidate this week, and is already defending her unpopular rein as CEO of Hewlett Packard.
But despite claiming that she achieved “great things” at the firm – blaming “headwinds” created by “people who did not want to see HP change” for the numerous missteps witnessed – her six-year tenure was divisive to say the least.
Here are some high- and lowlights of Fiorina's journey to prospective leader of the most powerful country in the world...
1. AT&T career
Prior to joining HP, Fiorina rose through the executive ranks at AT&T. Joining the company in 1980, she later led corporate operations for the spin-off of Lucent. By 1998 she had earned an impressive reputation, described Fortune magazine “the most powerful woman in business”.
2. Blazing a trail: first female Fortune 20 CEO
By July 1999, Fiorina had replaced Lewis Platt as HP CEO, making her the first female CEO at a Fortune 20 company.
3. Failed PwC bid: problems begin
Against a backdrop of the aftermath of the late 1990s tech boom, Fiorina always faced a tough job in steering the corporate giant through a number of challenges – leading to a number of unpopular decisions.
One of her first significant moves was to agree the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers for $14 billion. Cue industry watcher sniggering at the valuation, a subsequent climbdown from HP, and rival IBM eventually snapping up the firm for $4 billion after the dotcom bubble had burst.
4. Compaq merger and lay-offs
Despite strong opposition from the board, Fiorina pushed through the acquisition of PC and server giant, Compaq. The controversial $25 billion deal - or, as one of HP's founders labelled it, the "$25 billion mistake" - went through in 2002, and HP’s stock price preceded to head southward in response.
The controversial deal eventually led to 17,000 layoffs as the firm faced competition from rivals such as Dell.
5. The aftermath
Fiorina's is viewed by some as one of the worst CEO tenures in tech – her legacy being a total of 30,000 layoffs, disaffected employees, alienated customers, falling share prices, huge debts and a company still attempting to untangle its legacy businesses. She was forced to resign in 2005, with a $40 million ‘golden parachute’.
One commentator at the time, Yale University business expert Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, lamented her "ruthless attack on this great company".
“She destroyed half the wealth of her investors and yet still earned almost $100 million in total payments for this destructive reign of terror,” he said.
6. Career in politics
After leaving to a sigh of relief from employees – and allegedly a chorus of “the witch is dead” from some staff members – Fiorina began her first steps towards political office.
In 2006 she worked for John McCain in his succesful bid to become the Republican Party presidential candidate in the 2008 election, before making her own Senate election bid in 2009.
7. Future: the White House?
The latest chapter in Fiorina's career is her decision to run as a Republican candidate in the 2016 presedential election. She has used her time at HP as a platform for her bid, pointing to a significant increase in revenues after growing the firm, particularly through the navigation of the difficult Compaq merger.
However, after neglecting to register the internet domain CarlyFiorina.org, which has since been hijacked to display the following message:
"Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain. So I'm using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard: [30,000 emoji's pictured].
"People with families. And what does she say she would have done differently? [She said] "I would have done them all faster."