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The Image Maker

Two years ago, Fortune magazine issued a special list titled Diversity 2005: People With The Most Clout. On it were just three Indian Americans, two being Sonny Mehta, Indra Nooyi. The third was Vyomesh Joshi, Executive Vice President, Hewlett Packard, who heads the company's imaging and printing group.

'Restructuring aside', Fortune said, 'Joshi is still the straw that stirs the drink. Despite rival Dell's push into printers, his unit alone would rank Number 79 on the Fortune 500.'

A recent New York Times article offered some insight into Joshi and his goals for his company's future. HP makes half the world's printers. And yet, Joshi recently started a large company meeting by sharing the following piece of information: 'He said one of his daughters, a college student, had told him,
in his words
'Nearly everything you do throughout the workday is shifting from a labor-intensive, physical and analog process to an automated, digital, mobile and virtual process.'
Photo: Hewlett-Packard
'I don't need a printer,' the Times wrote. 'Like many people of her generation, she lives online and finds it unnecessary or too difficult to put bits onto paper.'

'The intent of this is not to scare you, though I am scared,' Joshi was quoted as saying.

He certainly has a big challenge ahead of him. While HP is far ahead of rivals Dell and Lexmark, Joshi's unit has to make itself more relevant in times when printing needs have changed drastically. Printing clear images off the Internet, for instance, has its own challenges.

But no challenge is tough for Joshi, a trained engineer from India who received a master's degree from Ohio State. Though he currently serves on the board of Yahoo! and takes home an annual compensation of over $12 million, like most immigrants he has seen difficult times in the past. 'In 1984, when we started, we had no idea we would be so successful,' Joshi once told the audience at a Net Impact Conference. 'We simply saw a market trend -- that personal computers would be big.' Reasoning that people would want to print off their desktop, his team figured out how to use inkjet and laser technologies to create low-end products for home users and upscale models for offices. That few offices can function without these technologies today is testimony to the magnitude of his achievement.

When the company first hired Joshi as an inkjet printer engineer, he would walk from his apartment to his office. Look how far he has come.