Stuart Rose knows all about company restructuring and can offer a word or two of advice to Hewlett-Packard and Compaq staff — particularly to the executives — after a proposal to merge the two was announced this month.
Rose was IBM NZ’s director of business development until he took early retirement from the firm in 1990, aged 53.
Big Blue was restructuring at the time and approximately 50 older employees took voluntary redundancy.
The Wellingtonian, who had been in the IT industry for 27 years, could have done another top IT job on high pay, but Rose wanted a “refreshing” change, so ended up as head of New Zealand International, a Trade NZ subsidiary that helped develop the industry that’s grown up around teaching full-fee paying overseas students.
“It gave me a different outlook on life. My general manager and marketing skills were very useful in growing a new organisation but I also had to get my hands dirty on basic tasks such as accounting and typing my own presentations. That was good for me, I think.”
Rose says the HP-Compaq merger offers more challenge for the new company than their employees. “I still see many of the ex-IBM employees. Those that left the company were in general confident and intelligent people. IBM had invested millions of dollars on their development.
“Most have prospered in their new careers and are very grateful for their training and the financial package that they were given. So I would say to the HP/Compaq executives, you can do the same, be confident and if you are able, the future will work out fine, even though there is going to be some stress until you find and get onto the new path,” he says.
Rose says those left behind at the new company may find it hard to make the new firm a success. IBM lost many of its most able people in the redundancies.
“I respect IBM for this, but if I were managing the HP/Compaq merger, I would be selecting the people that I wanted to keep and make it attractive for them to stay and minimising what is spent on those who will go,” he says.
Since 1999, Rose has worked with his own company offering international education and immigration services. That year, he also became chairman of Terranova Pacific Services, a Wellington clinical software producer. He has also been an external lecturer on the Victoria University MBA.