International Business Machines (IBM
) this week elected Virginia M. Rometty president and chief executive officer of the company, as well as a member of the board of directors. She'll assume these roles effective January 1, 2012, at which time she'll go down in IBM's 100-year history as the company's first female CEO.
"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 Unit," current CEO Samuel Palmisano said in a statement. "But 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. I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century."
Rometty has big shoes to fill. Under the leadership of Mr. Palmisano, IBM set records in pre-tax earnings, earnings per share, and free cash flow, IBM says. He also helped IBM increase its EPS by almost five times, generated over $100 billion in free cash flow, and invested more than $50 billion in research and development, all of which led to IBM's shares trading at a record high.
IBM's announcement comes one month after HP appointed its own female CEO in Meg Whitman.