Charismatic, articulate and visionary would be the perfect description of the first woman CEO and chair president of IBM, Ginni Rometty. A systems engineer at IBM during the start of her career, she subsequently carved her way to become the head of sales, marketing and strategy. During this period, her work in negotiation & integration of the “largest acquisition in professional services history” of IBM, the purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers IT consulting business proved her as an asset to the company. Initially an intern with General Motors, she made her big move to IBM in 1981 post her graduation in computer science and electrical engineering from Chicago’s Northwestern University. She replaced Sam Palmisano as IBM’s CEO on October 1, 2012. Since her taking the reins of the multinational corporation, some of the noteworthy changes include reinventing the company to lead in the new era of AI, blockchain, cybersecurity & quantum technologies.
With over three decades of a career at IBM, Rometty has always been aware that staying in one’s comfort zone is an obstruction for self and organisational growth. “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist” quotes Rometty. She has proved successful during times of fraught by taking risks and applying sweeping changes/ strategies to beat her rivals. IBM has been successful in staying ahead of its rivals under Rometty’s leadership, because of her constant push for innovation.
Through her leadership, Rometty has worked towards aligning her workforces and to motivate employees to the fullest. She has more extensively worked towards including a diverse work culture and various advanced leadership measures. She has worked in the direction of ensuring that women have equal opportunities at the institution by taking steps, like extending parental work leaves and the “returnship” program which gives women returning from a parental leave hands-on experience on emerging technologies. To ensure that employees have a goal which they can jointly work towards, she has carved out various long-term strategic beliefs guaranteeing employees have a higher goal to work towards. She says, “For CEOs today, it’s all about achieving growth and efficiency through innovation. It’s not about product innovation so much anymore as about innovating business models; process, culture and management”. Rometty, through her leadership, has also been trying to ensure that the society is prepared for future advancement, technology and data. This comprises preparing employees for “new collar” job roles in emerging technology fields that do not require a bachelor’s degree.
Being amongst one of the largest tech companies, IBM’s prominence and authority had somewhat reduced in the last two decades. Since Ginni Rometty coming into power as the CEO and President, her vast experience at the company and skillful leadership has made a remarkable difference in bringing success to the institution.