The Managing Directors

HP Australia had five managing directors between 1967 and 2000. The first tenure of fifteen years by John Warmington was by far the longest.

John Warmington (Left): 1967 to 1981, with
long time HP employee son, Russell
  David Booker (Right): 1982 to 1985, with John Bieske
Malcolm Kerr (Right): 1986 to 1990, with Ian Murray   David Booker, John Warmington and
Malcolm Kerr in 1985
Bill Hilliard: 1990 to 1995   Bruce Thompson: 1996 to 2000

John Warmington: 1967 to 1981

John Adamson Warmington was the longest-serving managing director of HP Australia. He ran the company from its inception in 1967 until his retirement in October of 1981.

John was born on July 14, 1919 in Sunshine Victoria (just west of Melbourne). John was schooled at Williamstown High School, Northcote High School and Scotch College. He started full-time work in 1936 as a clerk with the marine supply company Inglis Smith. During World War II, John served as a Lieutenant in Army Special Intelligence, located in Brisbane and in Papua New Guinea. After the war, John took a job as an automotive parts salesman for Sample Electronics, where he began his association with HP. Sample took on a distributorship for HP in 1946. At the time, HP had 25 instruments in its product line. In 1947, John sold the first HP instrument delivered in Australia, a 410A voltmeter.

John worked for Sample for twenty years, until HP bought out the distributorship in 1967 to establish HP Australia. As general manager of Sample at the time, John became the first managing director of HP Australia. He was one of 29 Sample employees to form the original HP Australia. The number of employees grew to over 450 when John retired in 1981. That number included his son Russell (and subsequently included his grandson Alan). John passed away in September of 2007.

David Booker: 1982 to 1985

David Booker was the youngest managing director to assume the reins at HP Australia. He was born in London in 1946 and was only 35 when John Warmington retired at the end of FY1981.

David earned a PhD at Sheffield University in microwave antennas. He worked for the South African Post Office’s microwave communications section before joining HP in 1973. He worked as a field engineer in both instruments and computers. David became General Manager of HP South Africa in 1977. He moved to Australia in August of 1979 to become the General Marketing Manager.

David moved to Bristol, England in November of 1985 to become the Marketing/Administration Manager of HP Labs in the UK.

Malcolm Kerr: 1986 to 1990

Like John Warmington, Malcolm Kerr was one of the employees of Sample Electronics when it was purchased by HP in 1967. He was born in Wollongong, New South Wales in 1940.

Malcolm was a serious competitor from an early age. He trained with the Australian Olympic swimming team in the late 1950s. He placed second in the New South Wales cycling championship and was a successful rally car racer. Malcolm earned an engineering diploma and joined Sample Electronics in 1964. After HP acquired the Sample distribution business, Malcolm became the first HP computer sales representative in Australia.

In 1973, Malcolm moved to the US to became HP’s Intercontinental (all international areas excluding Europe) Marketing Manager for Computer Systems. He later became General Manager of HP Singapore before moving to Hong Kong in 1980 to become Region General Manager for the Far East.

Malcolm served as the Managing Director of HP Australia from November, 1985 until March 1, 1990 when he stepped down due to ill health. Malcolm died April 18, 1990 on a very sad day for HP Australia.

Bill Hilliard: 1990 to 1995

Bill Hilliard was born in 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up on the east coast of the US. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from Princeton where he was an All-American swimmer. After graduating in 1962, Bill served as the Transport Officer at the US Naval Air Station in Alemeda, California. In 1966, he earned an MBA from Harvard and joined HP as a sales staff engineer.

Bill held numerous roles within the company during his first 20 years including: Field Engineer, District Sales Manager, Area Sales Manager and Area General Manager. In 1986, Bill became the Worldwide Third Party Manager where he was responsible for all of HP's indirect sales channels. In 1989, Bill became the Intercontinental Director of Marketing and Business Development.

During Bill's tenure at the helm of HP Australia, the company's revenues grew from $A248M to $A720M per year. HP Australia received the award for best overall country in the Asia Pacific Region for FY 1993.

Bill returned to the US in 1995 to become the Director of Marketing Projects for the company. He retired in 1999 and founded KaneHill Corporation, a construction and development company, which built residential subdivisions in the US Northwest. Two of Bill's brothers (Bob and Reed) as well as his wife, Janis Andrews, also retired after long careers at HP/Agilent.

Bruce Thompson: 1996 to 2000

Bruce Thompson was the first managing director of HPA that did not come from a sales or engineering background. Bruce spent his entire HP career in finance and administration, starting as an assistant accountant in 1968, only a year after HP had acquired Sample Electronics’ distribution business.

Bruce was born in 1946. Bruce completed an Economics Degree from Monash University before earning his CPA accreditation. Bruce also graduated from both the Melbourne University and Wharton Business School Advanced Management Programs.

Bruce's HP career also included three years in Taiwan as finance and administration manager. During Bruce’s five years leading HP, revenues grew 125% ($A720M to $A1,620M). Bruce also oversaw a tripling of HP Australia’s export revenues from $100M to $320M, most of which came from the Melbourne-based Advanced Networks Division.

Bruce became the CEO of Keycorp Limited in November of 2001 until his retirment in June of 2007. Bruce was renowned for his excellent public speaking skills and was a particularly entertaining emcee of company all-staff meetings in his admin days.

Warmington photo courtesy of Wordsong Communications P/L. All other photos courtesy of Hewlett-Packard Australia Ltd.

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