IBM Quietly Names a New CEO

While similar changes cause a stir at other companies, IBM plans a smooth transition from Palmisano to Rometty.

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IBM Doesn't like drama -- and it proved that late last month when, without fanfare, its board of directors named 30-year company veteran Virginia Rometty to succeed Sam Palmisano as CEO.

Rometty will replace a somewhat reserved figure who didn't seek the spotlight in Washington or Silicon Valley, but who nevertheless brought big changes to IBM and set clear directions for it.

Rometty, the company's senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy, will take over as CEO on Jan. 1. Palmisano will remain chairman of the board.

Rometty joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. By 2002, she was overseeing the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers and its 100,000 consultants into the company, following IBM's $3.5 billion acquisition of PwC.

Gartner analyst Chris Ambrose said the appointment follows the IBM tradition of keeping the company -- and not any one individual -- at center stage.

Chris Foster, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said Rometty has a good understanding of IBM's software, services and hardware business, so customers shouldn't expect any major changes. If anything, Rometty may be better at engaging customers than Palmisano, added Foster, citing her reputation for making customers feel involved.

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