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HP loses former Compaq server exec

Mary McDowell, who used to run Compaq's industry-standard server business, has become the latest executive to step down at Hewlett-Packard.

Mary McDowell, a well-regarded executive who used to run Compaq's industry-standard server business, left Hewlett-Packard last week, after accepting a buyout package.

McDowell's departure comes shortly after she returned to work from a sabbatical and was named senior vice president of strategy and corporate development. In that post, McDowell was involved in HP's merger and acquisition strategy and reported to Chief Technology Officer Shane Robison.

McDowell left HP last week "to pursue personal and professional interests," according to HP spokeswoman Suzette Stephens. Friday was the last day for McDowell to accept a merger-related severance package HP offered Compaq executives who were not given the same responsibilities at HP that they enjoyed at Compaq.

McDowell went on sabbatical this past spring--just as HP announced a restructuring of its high-end computing unit--and returned to the new post in August.

HP had hoped that, through the new post, McDowell would gain broader management experience beyond that of running a single product division, according to a source close to the company. HP executives had said for months that McDowell was sticking with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech giant, despite rumors that she was headed to one of its rivals.

McDowell's departure follows those of a number of others from the middle of HP's executive ranks. Among those was another former Compaq executive, Howard Elias, who took a similar severance package before departing for storage rival EMC.

Others who have left in recent months include Mark Sorenson, a vice president in the storage software division, and John Jackson, a director of business continuity services, who left HP after less than four months to join IBM. Former Compaq CEO Michael Capellas left HP in November to become CEO of MCI, then known as WorldCom.

Stephens said HP has been able to keep many of Compaq's top executives, including former Chief Financial Officer Jeff Clarke, sales chief Peter Blackmore, and Robison. "We have had unparalleled retention of our executive management, postmerger," she said.

HP said it is searching for a replacement for McDowell. In the interim, her responsibilities will be handled by Paul Weiskopf, who previously led strategy for HP's enterprise systems group and already reports to Robison.