IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is retiring at the end of 2020 after almost 40 years with the company. Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst will take over as IBM President on April 6, IBM’s Arvind Krishna as CEO on the same date. Rometty will continue serving as executive chairman of the Board until the end of 2020.
“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty in a pre-prepared statement. “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.
She added: “Jim is a seasoned leader who has positioned Red Hat as the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT software solutions and services, and has been quickly expanding the reach and benefit of that technology.”
IBM returned the first quarterly revenue growth in five quarters last week, reporting earnings of $21.77 billion for its fiscal Q4, 2019.
The eldest of four children in an Italian-American family, Rometty began her career with IBM in 1981, going on to lead the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, creating a global team of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts.
She has a Bsc in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern University, and also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations.
Krishna, 57, is IBM senior VP for cloud and cognitive software.
His current responsibilities also include the IBM Cloud, IBM Security and Cognitive Applications business, and IBM Research. He built many of IBM’s data-related businesses.
He has an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and a PhD. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined IBM in 1990.
Whitehurst (left), 52, is IBM senior VP and CEO of Red Hat. During his tenure at Red Hat, revenue grew over eight times and market capitalisation by more than 10 times.
He was previously a partner at The Boston Consulting Group. Whitehurst holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Nicholas McQuire, Senior VP, Enterprise Research as CCS Insights said: “Putting Arvind Krishna at the helm of IBM is a good move. It is a reassuring play for existing customers since Krishna combines IBM knowhow and brings to the table an understanding of the key technologies, cloud, opensource and Red Hat and the emerging technologies that will differentiate IBM in its next chapter, such as quantum computing, AI and Blockchain.
“Having Whitehurst as president, is also a good move, bringing an outsider perspective to the table as well.”
He added: “Ginni Rometty will come under questioning for her tenure, when, at times, growth wasn’t spectacular and some areas of the portfolio like its public cloud strategy with IBM SoftLayer needed redirecting. That said, in my view she should largely be credited for laying important strategic foundations that will help IBM transform and potentially thrive under Arvind Krishna.”