chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard (HP),
a technology company worth $72 billion, Carly Fiorina is the most
powerful woman in American business. Many give credit to the savvy
businesswoman for leading the technology titan into the twenty-first
century. In 2002 Fiorina cemented her reputation as a risk taker
when she engineered a controversial merger between HP and Compaq
After expanding her empire, Fiorina was sitting at the helm of the
second largest computer company in the world. By the mid-2000s,
however, given HP's shaky numbers, critics wondered if Fiorina's
reign would continue. Regardless, her role in history as a trailblazer
would remain. When she joined Hewlett-Packard in 1999, Fiorina became
the only woman to head a large, publicly held company in the United
Businesswoman Carly Fiorina was born Cara Carleton Sneed on September
6, 1954, in Austin, Texas. Her unique name was the result of family
tradition. All the male members of the Sneed family who were named
Carleton died while serving in the Civil War (1861–1865). To
honor them, one child in each subsequent generation was named either
Carleton (if a boy) or Cara Carleton (if a girl).
Fiorina's father, Joseph Sneed, was a lawyer and at one time served
as deputy attorney general under President Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994).
He also served for more than thirty years as an appeals court judge
in San Francisco, California. Fiorina's mother, Madelon, was an
abstract painter. In 2003, during a ceremony honoring her father's
Fiorina credited her parents for inspiring her to excel. "In
times of hardship and uncertainty," she observed, as quoted
on the OCE Public Information Office Web site, "people need
a strong internal compass to find their way." Fiorina specifically
thanked her father for "always being my true north."
"Progress is not made by the cynics and doubters. It is made
by those who believe everything is possible."