Monday, August 17, 2009

Objective Seven -- Community

Dinner last weekend with two HP VPs and two other long-term HP veterans -- 116 years of total service between them. Three of the four argued that HP still had plenty of enthusiasm and dedication, and that the HP Way was alive and well in groups where their leadership was "old school" or simply enlightened and bought into the HP Way as long practiced.

All four, however, reported independently that the image of HP being the leading corporate citizen in the community, long a cherished hallmark of the company, has dried up in the current regime. Carly, they averred, was as strong on that as Lew or even Dave; not so under Hurd.

At a key Foundation meeting in Chicago two weeks earlier, I was astonished and saddened to hear the perspective of leadership at the Gates, Ford, Kauffman, Knight, and MacArthur Foundations, not to mention the Tiger Woods, Carlsen, and other smaller foundations share their feelings about HP absentee-ism for the topic of science and math education in America. They were outspoken about their perception that HP only cares about sales, and ties corporate giving to "deals" at best these days.

Moreover, the considered opinion was that nine of the top ten high-tech firms in America (and recall that HP is now THE top high-tech company on the globe) have their CEO or Chairman or both involved enough in STEM education to be carried on the front pages of the Wall St Journal while HP "stands aside". What the hell has gone wrong at this place? Is the new guy in touch with anything besides the bottom line?


papwalker said...

Oddly enough a Google search for 'HP Education' brings up some Australian initiatives in the first page

Hard to say how much of this simply a 'discount' on pricing of HP items or a real attempt at reaching out to the comunity. What I've tried to read seems wapped up in sales spin lingo. I guess you need to spend time to dig around to see how real at is (at least in australia).

It seems to me there is a drift away from science and math in first world countries. Students chase the 'big bucks' in accounting and business. Even medicine is taking a hit. On the other hand the 'emerging economies' provide a wealth of students heading for science and EE. Around where I live there are dozens of Indian students studying CS and EE. How much input HP has I dont know. I might have a chat with some of them.

If the US (and Australia for that matter) wish to stay on top of the heap with innovation and technology, it must pay close attention to getting the kids and students enthusiasm up.
Texas Instruments seems to have the leg up at the moment. HP killed the Xpander whilst TI has continued on with the TI Nspire-CAS. (a brilliant device for teaching math!)

Another problem is that engineers and scientists are percieved to be second teir. The 'big boys' come from marketing and accounts.

Personally, I'd rather drink with engineers.
Salt of the earth.

chuck said...

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) does indeed take a back seat in America these days, whilst kids chase MBAs and law degrees. This has been noted and decried by many, including Craig Barrett of Intel and John Chambers of Cisco vociferously. To little avail.

And I'd rather tip a horn w engineers too!
In terms of world innovation, there is plenty going on, and the Indians and Chinese are leading the pack. One research assessment has it that 25% of the companies, and 52% of the leaders, for Silicon Valley startups in the past twenty years, were born in India.

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