Before the just-declared presidential candidate became Hewlett-Packard's CEO, got fired, survived cancer, and made a failed bid for the U.S. Senate, Fortune put Carly Fiorina on the map.
If you’re a supporter of Carly Fiorina, who announced this morning that she’s running for president, you can give Fortune credit for making her famous. If you’re not a Fiorina fan, well, blame us.
In 1998, Fortune selected Fiorina, then 44 years-old and in charge of the largest division at telecom giant Lucent Technologies, to be No. 1 on its first-ever list of the Most Powerful Women in Business. A relative unknown outside the telecom industry (and at the time, profiled only in Investor’s Business Daily), Fiorina landed on Fortune’s cover. Ten months later, in July 1999, Hewlett-Packard HPQ recruited her to be CEO.
Fortune reported on Fiorina vigorously throughout her rises and falls—including Carol Loomis’ memorable cover story, “Why Carly’s big bet is failing,” which appeared shortly before the HP board fired her. That story explains her shortcomings as a leader. And so far, her record as a politician is spotty—she failed in her 2010 bid to represent California in the U.S. Senate. But as I say in a recent piece about her emerging role as the GOP’s weapon against Hillary Clinton, Fiorina knows how to fight and she enjoys the battle. So she’s one to watch in the emerging 2016 presidential contest. This excerpt from Fortune‘s 1998 cover story details how Fiorina first rose to power and fame:
In her memoir, Tough Choices, Fiorina reflected on this first major story about her in Fortune, as well as later lessons of her roller-coaster career.
And in this recent interview for her “Smart Women, Smart Power” series for CSIS, my Fortune colleague Nina Easton digs deeper into Fiorina’s motives and motivations, and talks with her in-depth about her views on foreign policy.