IBM on Tuesday said that Virginia "Ginni" Rometty, a 30-year veteran of the company, will take over as president and CEO starting January 1, replacing current president, CEO and chairman Sam Palmisano.
Under the succession plan approved by IBM's directors Tuesday, Palmisano, who was named president and chief operating officer in 2000, CEO in 2002 and chairman in 2003, will remain as chairman.
The succession is glaringly smoother than that of IBM rival Hewlett-Packard Co., which has struggled in recent years to bring stability to its executive suite.
Rometty, who will be IBM's ninth CEO since its founding, joined the company in 1981 as a systems engineer, and currently serves as the company's global sales leader, where she is responsible for leading IBM's global strategy, marketing and communications functions.
Prior to that Rometty was senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, where she led the successful integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting – acquired by IBM in 2002 – and built a global team of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts. Rometty, 54, also has served as general manager of IBM Global Services, America, and general manager of the company's Global Insurance and Financial Services Sector.
Palmisano, 60, leaves behind an IBM that's far more focused on software and services and less on computer hardware. During his tenure the company exited such commodity businesses as PCs and printers. His legacy includes a tight focus on such fast-growing areas as business analytics, cloud computing, emerging markets like China and India, and the growing use of information technology throughout society – what IBM calls "Smarter Planet."