IBM Names Sales Chief Virginia Rometty As CEO, Samuel Palmisano Will Remain As Chairman

IBM’s board of directors has just named Virginia M. Rometty as the company’s new CEO and president, replacing Samuel J. Palmisano, who currently is IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. Palmisano will remain chairman of the board. Rometty will become CEO effective January 1, 2012.

Rometty was previously senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy. Rometty joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. She was previously senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, and then was promoted to global sales leader. In her most recent role with Big Blue, She is accountable for revenue, profit, and client satisfaction in the 170 global markets and for the company’s worldwide sales results, which exceeded $99 billion in 2010.

She also is responsible for leading IBM’s global strategy, marketing and communications functions. And she previously served as general manager of IBM Global Services, Americas, and of IBM’s Global Insurance and Financial Services Sector.

Palmisano says of Rometty in a release, “Ginni’s long-term strategic thinking and client focus are seen in our growth initiatives, from cloud computing and analytics to the commercialization of Watson. She brings to the role of CEO a unique combination of vision, client focus, unrelenting drive, and passion for IBMers and the company’s future. I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century.”

Palmisano, 60, became IBM chief executive officer in 2002 and chairman of the board in 2003.