HPE CEO Antonio Neri rearchitects for the future

A year and a quarter into his tenure as HPE’s CEO, Antonio Neri reflects on his company’s storied past and the very human challenge of refocusing a $29 billion enterprise.

HPE CEO Antonio Neri rearchitects for the future

Antonio Neri likes to refer to himself as “an engineer by trade.” First in the Hewlett Packard empire to be promoted up the ranks to CEO since Lew Platt in 1992, Neri is a kind of local hero inside HPE, a man of the people who started in HP tech support nearly 25 years ago, and thrived as a technologist and dealmaker. Today, a little over a year into his job as Meg Whitman’s successor, Neri boasts an engineer’s understanding of HPE’s vast portfolio of data center solutions.

No surprise, then, that Neri has developed a detailed technical vision for HPE that focuses on edge computing and composable infrastructure. But his long tenure has also given him insight into the dynamics of a company recently split in two — and how to keep HPE’s 66,000 employees motivated and innovating after years of tumultuous change. It’s a management challenge on a scale few CEOs ever face.

He also subscribes to the customer-centric religion espoused by most Silicon Valley CEOs. “One of the things I learned early on in my journey is the customer is the center of everything we do,” he says. But partners play a special role, too: “Remember, this company has a partner-centric, go-to-market-led model, so 70 percent of our business is done through our channel.”

I interviewed Neri in HPE’s New York offices the day after the company opened its new headquarters in San Jose. The following Q&A, edited for clarity and length, focuses on Neri’s efforts to modernize and revitalize the company; a companion interview on Network World digs into his technical vision for the modern data center.

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