Former Xerox CTO Hired To Lead Operations At IBM's Research Division

Sophie Vandebroek, who recently stepped down as chief technology officer at Xerox, has taken charge of day-to-day operations at IBM's vast network of global research facilities.

Vandebroek, a highly accomplished engineer, widely recognized for driving innovation at Xerox during her 10-year tenure as the company's technological leader, assumed the COO position at IBM Research earlier this month, according to her LinkedIn page.

The hire, first reported Monday by business news site Xconomy, returns Vandebroek to Big Blue some 25 years after she left the company for Xerox.

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Vandebroek developed semiconductor technologies at IBM for several years in the late 1980s after moving from Belgium to the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. from Cornell University. More recently, since 2008 she served as chairman of the board for Xerox' famed PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).

Xerox partners credited Vandebroek for maintaining an aggressive pace of patent filings.

IBM Research, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., is the world's largest industrial research operation, with 3,000 scientists employed at 12 labs spread across several countries.

Researchers at those facilities are working to develop next-gen technologies like quantum computing and were responsible for creating the foundations of the artificial intelligence and blockchain platforms IBM is now making a big push to bring to market.

Last September, Vandebroek announced on her LinkedIn page that she planned to retire from Xerox at the end of 2016 after the company split into two under pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn.

The Xerox name was retained for the entity selling printing and document management products, with a publicly-traded company called Conduent created to focus on business process outsourcing services.