The handling of the appointment of Virginia 'Ginni' Rometty as chief executive and president of IBM perfectly reflected Big Blue as a company.
There was no drama here. Current chief Sam Palmisano, who has been at the helm for the past decade, has not been forced out of the role due to a high-profile fallout with the board – think Carly Fiorina at HP - or to a gradual decline in company fortunes, as with Nokia's Jorma Ollila. It's simply that Palmisano has reached 60 and is retiring from the chief executive role. However, he'll stay on as chairman of the board.
IBM has also avoided causing the internal friction and market negativity that often comes with the selection of an outsider.
HP and Nokia both looked outside the company with the appointments of Léo Apotheker and Stephen Elop. Ex-SAP chief Apotheker has already followed Fiorina out the door, while Elop's appointment was swiftly followed by concerns that his previous role at Microsoft and deals with the Redmond firm would diminish Nokia as a standalone organisation. Announcements so far from this week's Nokia World show in London have done nothing to calm these fears.
IBM also gets brownie points for appointing its first female chief executive. OK, so it took the firm 100 years, but female bosses of tech firms are about as rare as snow leopards, and it's useful to have another strong role model to encourage women into the IT industry and show that the glass ceiling doesn't exist everywhere.
Rometty’s appointment was welcomed by industry analysts. Chris Ambrose, research vice president at Gartner, described the move as positive, while not all that surprising.
"It definitely appeared over the past months that the two leading candidates were either Ginni or Steve Mills, and the general rumours I was hearing (all outside of IBM) were pointing to Ginni," he explained.
"Her varied roles ranging from running Global Business Services, leading industries, driving the strategy in the emerging markets, and then running global sales and marketing seemed to be setting her up to take over this job, having worked within and across the various business segments."
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