IBM names Ginni Rometty new CEO

And so, Big Blue is saying goodbye to Sam Palmisano, the IBM CEO who flogged off the PC business to Lenovo. He will be replaced by Virginia M. “Ginni” Rometty. 

Palmisano has left a bit of a legacy for himself, confusing the world by spinning the PC business off to Lenovo but later praised for making the right decisions. In his tenure at IBM he has boosted profits and generally been well received. This is no coup.

Rometty, 54, has had 30 years at IBM. She was the driving force behind IBM’s takeover of PriceWaterhouseCooper’s consultancy, giving IBM the strategic sway to influence and advise in big business. Most recently, she was senior vice president and group executive sales, marketing and strategy. 

Rometty, known as Ginni inside the company, will take the helm on 1 January, 2012, where she will become IBM’s first ever female CEO. 

Ginni won friends with the board by pushing IBM further into the cloud and analytics, as well as being involved in Big Blue’s hobby, the Jeopardy! contestant Watson supercomputer. 

Ginni believes IBM will have to keep reinventing herself, a tip passed along by Palmisano. That said, she expects that in the short term, IBM won’t be making any major changes to its business or road map. Rometty must stay on course to double earnings per share up to 2015.

The Wall Street Journal reports Ginni won the job over other candidates like services head honcho Michael E. Daniels and software and systems top dog Steven A. Mills. Still, the paper collected a quotes from a former colleague and well-wishers, Paul Horn of IBM Research, who said Ginni’s “thoughtful” and “hard-driving”. He said: “She has got a lot of the right characteristics. People trust her.”

Another person familiar with IBM said Palmisano had been grooming her for the job.