IBM has appointed Virginia Rometty as its new chief executive, taking over from Sam Palmisano as of 1 January 2012.
Rometty has been at IBM for 30 years, joining back in 1981 as a systems engineer. She is one of the few female heads of a technology firm and, with her background in engineering rather than business, the move is a real boost for the potential of women in IT.
In her current role as global sales leader for IBM, 54 year-old Rometty is responsible for the firm's results, strategy, marketing and communications functions. Previously, Rometty was senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, where she managed the acquisition of PwC Consulting.
"Ginni's long-term strategic thinking and client focus are seen in our growth initiatives, from cloud computing and analytics to the commercialisation of Watson," Palmisano said.
"She brings to the role of CEO a unique combination of vision, client focus, unrelenting drive and passion for IBMers and the company's future. I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century."
Rometty was equally gushing about her current boss.
"Our ability to execute and deliver consistent results for clients and shareholders is strong. This is due to Sam's leadership, his discipline and his unshakable belief in the ability of IBM and IBMers to lead into the future. Sam taught us, above all, that we must never stop reinventing IBM," she said.
This is certainly not an ousting of an unpopular chief executive, as was seen with the recent changes at the top of HP, which swiftly replaced Léo Apotheker with Meg Whitman.
During Palmisano's decade at the helm, IBM has "exited commoditising businesses, including PCs, printers and hard disk drives, and greatly increased investments in high-value businesses and technologies", and has also enjoyed a period of financial growth during difficult economic times.
Palmisano will retire from the chief executive role in January, but will remain chairman of the board.
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