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January 9, 2023updated 10 Jan 2023 12:45pm

IBM poaches new UK and Ireland CEO from Microsoft

Big Blue's UK and Ireland operation will have a new leader, who joins the company at a challenging time for the tech sector.

By Ryan Morrison

IBM has appointed a new UK and Ireland CEO. Dr Nicola Hodson, formerly a senior global executive for Microsoft, will become the first female leader of the British and Irish team where she will “help clients in critical industries leverage technologies such as AI, automation and hybrid cloud to reduce costs, increase productivity and accelerate innovation”. She will replace Sreeram Visvanathan, who has held the role since 2020.

Dr Nicola Hodson joins IBM from Microsoft where she was Vice President of Customer and Partner Solutions (Photo: IBM)
Dr Nicola Hodson joins IBM from Microsoft where she was vice president of Customer and Partner Solutions. (Photo courtesy of IBM)

Visvanathan is leaving IBM after more than two decades with the company. Writing on LinkedIn he said he “always wanted to leave on a high” and feels like now is the right time. After a break he plans to focus on the development of digital skills, transformation of industries and responsible use of artificial intelligence in the future.

“In every role that I have held, there has been an opportunity to work on things that mattered,” Visvanathan wrote. “We have been able to influence industries, change people’s lives by leveraging technology. For me, it is almost like watching a production – a diverse team re-imagining the future with a client and then leveraging technology to deliver on that vision.”

New IBM UK CEO takes reins at ‘make or break’ time for businesses

Before joining IBM, Dr Hodson was vice president of customer and partner solutions at Microsoft. She joined the company in 2008 to lead its UK public sector business, moving to become the UK COO before joining the global team. As well as her role at Microsoft she is deputy president of trade association techUK.

During her career, Dr Hodson has worked in the IT and business services division of Siemens, at CSC (now DXC) and as a management consultant for EY. Her public service experience includes a role as non-executive director of energy regulator Ofgem, a board member at the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and at CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection group in the UK.

“IBM has incredible relevance in the market and I am excited to lead the UK and Ireland business and to work with such a talented team,” said Dr Hodson. “This is a make-or-break time for all companies and organisations as they move at pace to transform, to adopt new technologies and business models and to deliver on their sustainability ambitions. IBM technology and consulting capabilities in hybrid cloud and AI are helping clients to accelerate their critical transformation journeys.”

IBM UK and Ireland is one of Big Blue’s largest international operations, with core capabilities in hybrid cloud, AI, blockchain, data and analytics, and quantum computing. Its most recently published accounts, for the year to the end of December 2021, show annual revenue of £2.72bn, down from £3.51bn in 2020, though this takes into account the period in which the company spun off its managed services division, which accounted for 20% of IBM revenue, into a new company, Kyndryl.

“Nicola is an accomplished leader with an enviable wealth of senior-level experience in the IT industry and a deep understanding of challenges facing the C-suite,” said Ana Paula Assis, chair and general manager of IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa. “The UK and Ireland business is a critical growth and innovation engine for IBM and her strong track record in leading change will help drive sustained growth for our clients and our business.”

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In a LinkedIn post announcing the change in leadership, Asis added: “She is known for being an agent of change, for her industry expertise and ability to foster collaborative environments. Our warmest welcome to IBM, Nicola. We are looking forward to working with you.”

Read more: IBM banks on open networking approach to give it the 5G edge

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