HP CEO Meg Whitman tackled a number of tough questions and laid out plans for the company moving forward during a keynote speech at the Gartner Symposium expo in Orlando, Florida earlier today.

The executive also had a few choice words for Cisco chief John Chambers, suggesting that she’d rather have HP’s hand than Cisco’s right now – referring to their position as the number one networking company in China.

Whitman said one of her first priorities when taking the position was to figure out what HP did well and focus on that, a process that took roughly nine months. As it turns out, that area of expertise is engineering and having a commitment to quality products.

She noted that HP was more than just hardware or software; they are now a solutions company. Furthermore, Whitman believes that software security could be a huge focus for HP. She discussed TippingPoint, enterprise security and integrating protection into current infrastructure as areas of interest.

Whitman once again spoke about HP’s goals to re-enter the smartphone race. She told those in attendance that HP wouldn’t have a phone in 2013 but beyond that, they would. No platform was mentioned, instead leaving it up in the air as to what OS the handset would run. On the flip side, she suggested HP will focus on enterprise-class hybrid tablets that will compete against Microsoft’s Surface.

Moving forward, the chief believes 2013 will be the year that things begin to turn around for the company before making solid financial strides in 2014. As ZDNet notes, however, those could be ambitious goals and it could very well take a few years to right the ship even with the correct coordinates.