SVP Ginni Rometty to succeed Sam Palmisano as CEO to become the first woman to take over reins in Big Blue’s 100-year history
IBM has announced that senior vice-president Virginia "Ginni" Rometty will succeed Sam Palmisano as its chief executive from 1 January 2012. She will also become a member of the Armonk, New York-based company’s board of directors.
Rometty, 54, will be the first woman leader in the 100-year history IBM, and one of the few women to head a large US corporation. She will succeed Sam Palmisano in the role, who has been CEO since 2002, and will remain chairman. Palmisano turned 60 this year, the age at which IBM CEOs have traditionally stepped down. He is IBM’s second longest- serving CEO, behind founder Thomas J. Watson.
Speaking about his successsor, Palmisano said that she is "more than a superb operational executive."
Rometty graduated from Northwestern University with a degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. She joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. In her current role as an IBM senior vice-president, Rometty is in charge of the company’s global sales and marketing.
Rometty has seen several organisational changes at IBM, from acquisition of companies like SPSS (2009) and PwC consulting (2002), spinning off companies like Lexmark (1991), and selling off product lines like ThinkPad to Lenovo (2005).
Rometty is credited for her role in the formation of IBM’s business services division, including overseeing IBM’s $3.5bn acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consulting business.
Speaking about the deal, she said, "It was the first and only time a professional services firm of that size has been integrated into another large company."
According to AP, Rometty believes in learning by doing new things. "I learned to always take on things I’d never done before," she said.
Rometty added that she would continue to work on the company startegies. "I’ve been head of strategy at IBM and together with my colleagues built our five-year plan," she said. "My priorities are going to be to continue to execute on that."
Rometty became the senior vice-president of the group in 2005. She is credited for increasing profit at the unit 42% in her first two years on the job.