Patricia Dunn, who was forced out as Hewlett-Packard Co. chairwoman in the wake of a spying scandal in 2006, has died in Orinda, Calif., at the age of 58 following a long fight versus cancer.
Dunn was among the most powerful women in business during the 1990s and 2000s, having led Barclays Global Investors as CEO. She was trained as a journalist at UC Berkeley. She succeeded Carly Fiorina as HP chair in 2005.
But a snooping scandal at HP — sparked by the board’s hiring of a private investigation firm to get to the bottom of board-level leaks to the press — led to Dunn’s downfall at HP. Dunn and others involved in the hiring of investigators or the investigations themselves were also charged with identity theft and other felonies, but charges against Dunn were eventually dropped. Dunn maintained her innocence throughout, denying knowledge of the techniques employed by the investigators HP hired.
Dunn’s board was also noteworthy for having hired CEO Mark Hurd, who himself was forced out in the wake of a sexual harassment claim.
HP, in a statement issued to Bloomberg, said: “Pattie Dunn worked tirelessly for the good of HP. We are saddened by the news of her passing, and our thoughts go out to her family on their loss.”