IBM announces female chief executive

IBM has appointed Virginia Rometty as its first female chief executive in its 100-year history, Daniel Hadlow writes.

Rometty, currently the head of sales, marketing and strategy, will take over from Sam Palmisano in January, and join the small, but ever-growing list of women heading major corporations.

This follows another major technology firm giving its top role to a woman, with IBM’s rival Hewlett Packard confirming Meg Whitman as chief executive in September. She joins other women at the heights of the technology business sector, such as Xerox’s Ursula Burns.

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden, head of Catalyst Europe, a non-profit group that aims to promote opportunities for women in business, said:

“One always smiles when we receive a phone call asking us to comment on the news of another woman getting a top role, but this shows a move in the right direction towards a tipping point. It is a testament to IBM’s focus on the advancement of top talent, and at the end of the day, it’s all about talent.”

Rometty can also now claim the role of being the head of the biggest company with a female chief executive, displacing Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo.

Ginni, as she is known, has been with IBM since 1981 and climbed rapidly up the corporate ladder. As global sales leader, she is responsible for revenues and profits in 170 markets that exceeded $99bn in 2010.

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Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

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Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.