NEW HAVEN, CONN — Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina stopped by Yale University Thursday night to discuss leadership and our current political climate.
Hosted by Yale’s William F. Buckley Program and the Irving Brown Lecture Series at Young America’s Foundation, Fiorina’s talk centered on her career in the private sector, touching on everything from the opioid epidemic to strip clubs.
“I went on to Stanford, which went fine,” Fiorina said in her introduction, confidently delivering her remarks in black pump heels and a navy blazer. “I really wanted to go to Yale.”
After graduating from Stanford in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and medieval history, Fiorina dropped out of UCLA law school, worked as a receptionist at a real estate firm, and joined AT&T as a management trainee. At AT&T, she sold telephone services to federal agencies and often joined her male colleagues after work to close deals.
“I went to the strip club to meet our clients,” Fiorina recalled. “Being at the strip club was hard. Life is full of hard things.”
Her hard work paid off, earning her a promotion and an engineer “subordinate” who allegedly saved the company $300,000,000. The rest is history: Fiorina climbed AT&T’s corporate ladder, led the company’s Lucent Technologies division, and was named Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard Company in 1999.
“Carly Fiorina didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she obliterated it,” said Matthew Boyle of Fortune Magazine (which later named Fiorina the most powerful woman in business for five years straight).
Although Fiorina failed to secure the Republican nomination for president during two consecutive election cycles — and lost to Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer during 2010’s Senate election in California — her Thursday talk brimmed with political overtones.
“When you concentrate too much power in too few hands for too long, it becomes corrupted,” said Fiorina. “The status quo has enormous power. And the reason it has so much power is that it has people so invested in preserving it. And it is in any status quo that problems fester.”
“The purpose of leadership is to challenge the status quo and solve problems. The price is criticism.”
Only time will tell if Fiorina will be the one to challenge the status quo in 2020, though the former presidential candidate wasn’t subtle in discussing her political ambitions.
“I ran for office twice and I plan to do so again… If I choose to do so.”