IBM Names Rometty President and CEO

IBM LogoIBM named Virginia Rometty to be president and chief executive officer beginning Jan. 1. Now the senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy, she succeeds Sam Palmisano, who’ll remain chairman of the board.

Rometty was a systems engineer when she joined IBM in 1981. She rose to oversee the company’s IBM’s worldwide results (more than $99 billion in 2010) as well as global strategy, marketing and communications. She also was senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, leading the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and developing a group of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts around the world.

That experience makes Rometty well-positioned to continue to company’s growth in business solutions. “I.B.M. is selling business solutions, not just products,” Frank Gens, IDC’s chief analyst, told the New York Times. “Rometty has been at the forefront of that effort.”

In a speech in August, Palmisano talked about what it takes for a company to survive 100 years, and essentially it was all about figuring out when to change and when to remain steadfast. Palmisano brought plenty of change to IBM, the Los Angeles Times notes, pushing the company out of the PC business, which was sold to Lenovo, and curtailing production of printers and hard drives.

Rometty, 54, will join Ursula Burns at Xerox and Meg Whitman at HP as women CEOs of major tech companies. The company’s stock is at an all-time high as Rometty takes the reins, leading IBM as it seeks to expand its cloud computing and analytics businesses.

Rometty, who holds a degree in computer science and electrical engineering, in a Bloomberg story attributes much of her growth to taking on things she’d never done before — or growing into the job.

She said she will stay the course with IBM:

I’ve been head of strategy at IBM and together with my colleagues built our five-year plan. My priorities are going to be to continue to execute on that.

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