IBM Names Research Exec Kathryn Guarini As New CIO

Guarini, a company veteran who previously held roles at IBM Research, succeeds outgoing CIO Fletcher Previn.


IBM Monday named a new chief information officer, Kathryn Guarini, who comes to the position from roles within the IBM Research division.

Guarini, who has spent two decades with IBM and holds a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University, has succeeded outgoing CIO Fletcher Previn, who has departed “to pursue other opportunities” that were not specified.

Previn had spent 15 years with IBM, including nearly four years as CIO, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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[Related: IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s ‘Deeply, Deeply Passionate’ Plan To Make IBM-Red Hat No. 1 In Hybrid Cloud, AI]

Most recently, Guarini had served as vice president of impact science at IBM Research, and before that was the division’s chief operations officer.

She spent a total of four years at IBM Research, and prior to that had held numerous other roles within IBM, starting in 1999, when she joined as a research staff member, according to her LinkedIn profile. Guarini holds a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford, and IBM said she also holds more than 65 U.S. patents.

“As we determined our next CIO, it was important to identify a leader who could continue our transformational journey, is technically eminent and has a proven track record in building organizational capability,” wrote Jim Kavanaugh, CFO at IBM, in a blog post.

Guarini “led the IBM Research transformation to increase impact, extend technical distinction and improve the operational efficiency of the division,” Kavanaugh said.

“Kathryn has held various technical, management and executive positions in research and development during her 20-plus year tenure in IBM,” Kavanaugh wrote. “She has also led large global teams to deliver complex solutions that meet the changing needs of clients, and she is experienced in technical strategy and leadership development.”

Kavanaugh also added that Previn provided “invaluable thought leadership, creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit” as CIO of the company.

The changeover in the CIO role is effective immediately, IBM said.

The appointment of Guarini comes as Arvind Krishna approaches his first full year as CEO of IBM. Krishna, who assumed the chief executive role in April 2020, recently told CRN in an interview that he is focused on making IBM the No. 1 provider of hybrid cloud and AI.

“I think it’s the biggest change we have made in our go-to-market [model] in my living memory,” said Krishna, who started his career at IBM in 1990 as a researcher at its Thomas J. Watson Research Center. “If you think about how we pay our people and how we have got clarity on the partners, it is the single biggest change in 30 years on the go-to-market. It is massive.”