Meg Whitman: Politics and power

MEG Whitman, a New York native, was born in 1956 and received her Bachelor of Arts from Princeton in 1977. She moved on to get her Master of Business Administration from Harvard in 1979.

After graduation, Whitman worked for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Bain & Company and the Walt Disney Company. Whitman moved to eBay as its chief executive officer in 1998, where she worked until 2008, making sweeping changes to the company.

While at eBay, Whitman saw the business grow from 30 employees to 15,000 and annual revenues of $4m (£2.6m) grow to $8bn. She oversaw the purchase of PayPal and Skype, though the latter is considered a failure since eBay couldn’t integrate the system and was forced to sell it.

Retiring from eBay in 2008, Whitman changed her focus from the business world to the political when she ran for governor of California. Even though she won the Republican primaries in 2010, and invested $144m of her own money in the campaign, Whitman lost the race to Jerry Brown.

Soon after her political loss Whitman was added to the board of directors for Hewlett-Packard and took over as its CEO in September.

Her arrival at the top of HP is the source of some controversy. The board of directors named her chief without a formal search, and many voiced concerns over her lack of experience in the sector.

Forbes lists her as one of the world’s most powerful women and she was inducted into the US business hall of fame in 2008. Forbes estimates Whitman is worth $1.3bn and Fortune ranked her one of the three most powerful women in business.