Will HTC’s co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang be able to turnaround the struggling smartphone company?
It’s too early to make that call, but in an interview with Fortune, the 55-year-old executive provided some insight into what she’s been prioritizing for the past year since taking on more control. Some of her responsibilities now include marketing, building relationships with wireless carriers that carry HTC devices and lifting morale among employees.
The last job is a tough one. Since the company’s drastic drop in revenue and losses, it has experienced an exodus of senior leaders and employees, including dozens of layoffs at its HTC Americas division based in the Seattle area.
When reports first started surfacing that Wang was stepping into a more active role last October, it was a little unclear how the company would operate since Peter Chou was retaining the title of CEO. In that way, it’s different than other companies, where the founder regains control.
But employees tell Fortune that Wang’s leadership has started to help. In particular, Chou said he can now focus on building new products and new product categories.
Last week, HTC had its first reason to celebrate in awhile. After reporting three straight quarterly operating losses, the company returned to a profit, boosted by strong sales of its flagship HTC One smartphone (and cushioned by a more conservative marketing budget).
Wang, who is known for being cost-conscious by willing to fly on Southwest, has a lot of incentive to see things turn around. As the company’s largest shareholder, the value of her holdings have plunged by 90 percent since 2011.