HP exec goes from milking cows to trying to revive computer sales

Duane Zitzner isn't your typical Silicon Valley executive.

The 55-year-old drives a secondhand pick-up truck to work and until recently went back regularly to his hometown of Viroqua, Wis., to bale hay and run a tractor on his family's farm.

The executive vice president at Hewlett-Packard says his farm-boy background has prepared him for a task that can be as exhausting as toiling in the fields: turning around the company's money-losing PC business.

"You're 10 or 12 years old and you're driving this expensive machine which is also very dangerous," he said. "There's a huge amount of responsibility. I probably feel the same way running the PC business for HP -- huge amount of ownership and accountability."

Adding to the pressure, Zitzner's role recently got bigger.

With President Michael Capellas' departure, chief executive Carly Fiorina will have to depend more on HP's second-tier managers to pull off the firm's merger with Compaq Computer.

News source: SFGate Tech - From farmer to valley VP

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