Arvind Krishna will take the reins as the company’s 10th CEO.
After serving as IBM’s chairman, president and CEO since 2012 and leading the company through a massive — and often controversial — turnaround, IBM’s first and only female CEO, Ginni Rometty, will step down on April 6, 2020, according to the company. Rometty will continue to serve as executive chairman of the board through the end of the year.
The IBM veteran began her career with the company in 1981, serving in many leadership positions such as sales, marketing and strategy, and global business services. That was after beginning her career in technical positions such as systems analyst and systems engineer. The IBM Board of Directors elected Arvind Krishna as the new CEO, effective April 6. The company also named James Whitehurst as president of IBM. Whitehurst was senior vice president at IBM and Red Hat CEO.
Rometty’s retirement and Krishna’s appointment comes on the heels of IBM’s Q4 2019 financials which reported a gain of more than 3%, beating analysts’ expectations, boosted in part by the acquisition of Red Hat in 2019.
“We ended 2019 on a strong note, returning to overall revenue growth in the quarter, led by accelerated cloud performance,” said Rometty. “Looking ahead, this positions us for sustained revenue growth in 2020 as we continue to help our clients shift their mission-critical workloads to the hybrid cloud and scale their efforts to become a cognitive enterprise.”
While Rometty recognized her 2012 election as IBM’s top executive as the highest privilege in business, her tenure had its ups and downs, accolades and criticism. Succeeding Samuel J. Palmisano as CEO, Rometty said at the time, “Sam taught us, above all, that we must never stop reinventing IBM.”
And that she did.
Rometty ushered in digital reinvention, moving ahead to what she refers to as Chapter Two. Chapter One was characterized by digital, AI, experimentation and customer-facing apps. Chapter Two is enterprise -driven, or scaling digital and AI, including hybrid cloud and mission-critical applications, all underpinned by responsible stewardship.
During her bold leadership as CEO, Rometty positioned IBM on the forefront of AI, cloud, quantum, blockchain and cybersecurity. She championed the ethical deployment of new technology. A key early and strategic move during Rometty’s leadership was the sale of its x86 server portfolio to Lenovo in January 2014.
Rometty’s critics called for her ouster more than once following 23 quarters of no growth beginning in 2012. It wasn’t until January 2018 that IBM reported a 3.6% rise in revenue, for the quarter. Still, that didn’t quiet her critics.
Rometty was also a strong advocate for new-collar workers building talent and skills to assume the new jobs that AI and other emerging technologies will usher in.
At the same time, IBM was sued for shedding older workers while hiring younger ones in an effort to make the company more attractive to millennials.
Looking ahead, Rometty commented on her successor.
“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” she said. “He is a brilliant technologist who has played…
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