Meg Whitman's decision to resign as the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has led the market to speculate on whether she will seek public office again or take the reins of another technology company.
Her departure from the tech behemoth had led some experts to surmise that she could run for president although she has publicly denied the possibility in the past. She made a bid to seek the gubernatorial office in California in 2010 but failed to succeed despite spending a whopping $144 million of her own money.
Whitman's resignation means the field of women who are CEOs of technology companies has declined, since Antonio Neri is slated to succeed her as CEO in 2018. Her tenure at HP which started in 2011, left the company split into two major companies. Shareholders have reaped the rewards as shares of HP (HP) , which consists of the PC and printer businesses, have risen by 83% since the November 2015 separation, and shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which derives a large part of its business from selling servers, has grown by 65%.
She said on Tuesday that she is likely to seek another CEO role rather than focusing on public office. Her spokesman Henry Gomez told the Wall Street Journal that she would not run for another office, even though as a Republican she supported Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and could have a desire to unseat President Trump.
After serving as CEO for Hewlett-Packard, the predecessor of HPE and also eBay (EBAY) when it only had 30 employees in the past, Whitman has demonstrated many leadership abilities to run as a presidential candidate.
Whitman's career has spanned many industries and functions and having a quite broad and diverse work tenure would "potentially make her a great president," since she has experience in industries such as consumer goods, consulting, entertainment, retail, toys and technology at Proctor & Gamble (PG) , Bain and The Walt Disney Company (DIS) ," said Francis Petit, an associate dean for global initiatives and partnerships at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in New York.
"Meg Whitman is truly a global executive who knows how to create, deliver and sustain value with many diverse industries," she said. "This characteristic alone should be instrumental in her leading this nation.
She has also been dedicated in her track record of philanthropic activity in areas such as the environment, education and medical research.
"While her giving choices in these areas have been questioned, it is still positive that she is active," said Petit. "The reason why is that philanthropic activity, within these areas, can certainly resonate with the Millennial generation.
Being extremely resilient and "tough as nails" is a strong quality that leaders must inhabit. In the late seventies when Whitman began her career, the workplace environment was not accepting of female professionals with high potential.
Her successful CEO tenure at eBay lasted almost ten years while her tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard lasted almost seven years, and both of these stints are well above the under-five-year average tenure for CEOs, she said.
"She has changed positions, industries and grew professionally when other woman have failed," said Petit. "The reason why she lasted as long as she has is because Meg Whitman is a fighter with strong convictions who will not be pushed around.
One positive trait for Whitman is that she is "family with shareholder/board/management relationship," said Patrick Morris, CEO of New York-based HAGIN Investment Management. "She is not the product of an oligarchy like family business. Trump has never been questioned, except by the Justice Department when his family was systematically discriminating against minorities in housing."
A female president is long overdue since "it's time for a woman in the White House," he said. "The testosterone levels in the current White House make a locker room look like a maternity ward. These guys are completely out of control."
While Whitman has had some struggles with HP, she has likely been humbled and more interested in a positive legacy and outcome.
"Outrageous behavior and stupid tweets seem to be [Trump's] only end point," Morris said. "I would think Whitman might actually try to achieve something."
Whitman's ability to learn from her setbacks and not getting derailed are strong leadership traits, said Joann Lublin, author of Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World, who has met with Whitman several times, including a 90-minute interview for the book.
"She came into HP and demonstrated that she knows how to lead complex organizations," she said.
What will Whitman's next move be?
"She is waiting for the right opportunity," Lublin said. "Whitman has definitely been tested and has grown a startup, eBay, from nothing to a huge success. HP was struggling and she was able to fix for two sets of shareholders."
Since Whitman is no stranger to politics and is often known as a "crossover" and "battle tested," those qualities are much needed, said K.C. Ma, a CFA and director of the Roland George investments program at Stetson University in Deland, Fla.
"Whitman also shows strong resiliency crossover between political and corporate worlds," he said. "She announced that she will remain on the HPE board."
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Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 22.