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Whitman Refines HP's Tech Leadership Team

Boeing exec John Hinshaw brings experience in IT, business development, and complex, global supply chains.

When Meg Whitman was hired in September as Hewlett-Packard CEO, the person who kept coming to my mind was Alan Mulally, Ford's CEO. When Ford hired Mulally in 2006, it plucked him from Boeing. He was an engineer, someone who understood global supply chains and had overseen hugely complicated, technical products from the rawest R&D stages through blueprint to product.

Why wasn’t HP hiring someone like Mulally, I wondered? For all of her talents, how well did Meg Whitman know that kind of complex, technical, long-range product development cycle and global supply chain?

With her first major executive hire, Whitman appears to be aiming squarely at that gap. She has hired Boeing’s John Hinshaw for the new position of executive VP of global technology and business processes. At Boeing, Hinshaw was VP and general manager of the company’s Information Solutions unit, which sells information systems to enterprise customers, including the U.S. government. Before that, Hinshaw had been Boeing's global CIO, and before Boeing he was CIO at Verizon Wireless. Hinshaw will report to Whitman and sit on HP's executive council.

Whitman said in a statement: "John has an outstanding track record of process excellence and leading large, complex organizations. I am confident that he will help position HP for the future through best-in-class IT and shared services administration."

[ Want insight on IT hiring? Read 8 IT Hiring Strategies Of Top CIOs. ]

The CIO position at HP has been vacant since the departure this summer of Randy Mott, who left in a management shakeup by then-CEO Leo Apotheker. In that shakeup, HP said it would expand the role of the CIO beyond IT. The company seems to be sticking with that idea, describing Hinshaw's role this way:

He will oversee information technology and shared and administrative services, including indirect and services procurement. Hinshaw also will be in charge of optimizing business processes across the company.

The CIO title at HP now goes to Craig Flower, a company veteran who had been named interim CIO after Mott. Mott was hired by then-CEO Mark Hurd in 2005. While Mott as CIO (and executive VP) had reported to the CEO, Flowers will report to Hinshaw. Here's how HP describes his role:

Flower will be responsible for data management, application architecture, global business intelligence, sales, and product development and engineering applications. Flower has held a wide range of IT management positions within HP since 1984 spanning e-business, customer and sales operations, the Personal Systems Group, and marketing. “Craig is a leader who has proven that he can simultaneously deliver more value to the business while achieving significant cost reductions,” Whitman said. “His wide experience at HP will be key in driving new levels of business functionality.”

Since taking over as CEO, Whitman has decided HP would keep its PC business rather than spin it off, and that it would re-enter the tablet market. Hiring Hinshaw is her first major executive move. Navigating the HP culture is one of the most formidable challenges any new exec faces at the company, and Hinshaw will be no different. But his experience suggests Whitman is looking in the right places for leadership talent.

For more, read: 10 Lessons In IT Strategy From Ex-HP CIO Randy Mott"

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