Arvind Krishna Succeeding Ginni Rometty As IBM CEO

By Amit Chowdhry ● January 31, 2020
  • IBM SVP of Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna has been named as the CEO of the company as he succeeds Ginni Rometty

IBM SVP of Cloud and Cognitive Software Arvind Krishna has been named as the CEO of the company. Krishna has big shoes to fill as he succeeds IBM’s first female CEO Ginni Rometty, who is stepping down about eight years after serving as the head of the company. Krishna is officially starting the role on April 6, 2020. Rometty is going to remain as executive chairwoman of the board until the end of the year.

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty. “He is a brilliant technologist who has played a significant role in developing our key technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing, and blockchain.  He is also a superb operational leader, able to win today while building the business of tomorrow.  Arvind has grown IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software business and led the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Through his multiple experiences running businesses in IBM, Arvind has built an outstanding track record of bold transformations and proven business results, and is an authentic, values-driven leader.  He is well-positioned to lead IBM and its clients into the cloud and cognitive era.”

Over the past eight years, Rometty faced a number of challenges, including phasing out the company’s legacy businesses. And she had to drive the evolution of new IBM businesses like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and data analytics and artificial intelligence.

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To position the company as a leading hybrid cloud provider, IBM acquired Red Hat in August 2019 for $34 billion. And Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst was recently named as the president of IBM. Prior to joining Red Hat, Whitehurst was the chief operating officer of Delta Air Lines.

Along with Red Hat, Rometty oversaw 65 acquisitions during her tenure as the CEO of IBM. And Rometty also divested nearly $9 billion in annual revenue to focus the portfolio on IBM’s high value.

“Ginni has provided outstanding leadership for IBM, substantially transforming the company and ushering in a new cloud and cognitive era,” added Michael Eskew, Lead Director of the IBM Board of Directors.  “She has taken bold strategic actions to reposition IBM for the future, shedding businesses and growing new units organically and through acquisition, all while achieving record diversity and employee engagement and setting the industry standard for responsible technology ethics and data stewardship.”

Krishna originally joined IBM in 1990 and worked across a wide range of research and business management positions. Prior to joining IBM, Krishna had received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received a Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

“Arvind thinks and executes squarely at the intersection of business and technology,” stated Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board’s Executive Compensation and Management Resources Committee.  “He is an ideal leader to succeed Ginni and take IBM and its clients into the next chapter of the cloud and cognitive era.  Jim has been a great addition to IBM’s leadership team.  His considerable business and leadership skills will help IBM grow and flourish, and as President he will help Arvind and IBM continue to accelerate and scale the benefits of Red Hat, while ensuring that Red Hat also preserves its unique culture and commitment to open source innovation.”

Analysts have quickly compared IBM’s decision to name an executive of Indian origin as the head of the company to Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. Nadella has been instrumental in aggressively driving Microsoft’s transition to the cloud since he was promoted to CEO in 2014. Ever since Nadella became the head of Microsoft, the company’s stock grew over 300% and now the company’s market cap is $1.3 trillion.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if (IBM) is looking at Microsoft and hoping the same thing happens here,” noted Sevens Report Research founder Tom Essaye via Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.