IBM announces Ginni Rometty as new chief exec

IBM has announced a replacement for outging chief executive Sam Palmisano, and they're recruiting from within with long-time employee Virginia 'Ginni' Rometty taking on the role.

IBM veteran Rometty is due to take over from Palmisano on January 1st, with Palmisano expected to retain his position as chairman of IBM's board.

Palmisano became Big Blue's chief executive back in 2002, and was given the role of chairman of the board in 2003. During his time at IBM, Palmisano saw the company leave the PC, printer and hard drive markets to concentrate on enterprise products and emerging markets - a move that rival HP appears to be trying to emulate.

Currently the company's global sales leader, Rometty was once the senior vice president of IBM's Global Business Services during which time she led the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting into the company. During her ten-year stint as an executive, Rometty also served as the general manager of IBM Global Services and the company's Global Insurance and Financial Services arm.

"Ginni Rometty has successfully led several of IBM’s most important businesses over the past decade – from the formation of IBM Global Business Services to the build-out of our Growth Markets," enthused Palmisano at the announcement.

"She is more than a superb operational executive. With every leadership role, she has strengthened our ability to integrate IBM's capabilities for our clients. She has spurred us to keep pace with the needs and aspirations of our clients by deepening our expertise and industry knowledge.

"Ginni's long-term strategic thinking and client focus are seen in our growth initiatives, from cloud computing and analytics to the commercialization of Watson. 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," Palmisano continued. "I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century."

Rometty's history with the company goes back much further than this, however: she joined the company in 1981 as a systems engineer, thanks largely to her Bachelor of Science with high honours in computer science and electrical engineering, earned at Northwestern University.

"There is no greater privilege in business than to be asked to lead IBM, especially at this moment," claimed Rometty at the announcement. "Sam had the courage to transform the company based on his belief that computing technology, our industry, even world economies would shift in historic ways. All of that has come to pass.

"Today, IBM’s strategies and business model are correct. 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."