IBM appoints Arvind Krishna as CEO

James Whitehurst elected IBM president; Virginia Rometty continues as IBM executive chairman of the board

IBM, Red Hat, Appointments

The IBM Board of Directors has elected Arvind Krishna as chief executive officer of the company and a member of the Board of Directors, effective April 6, 2020.  Krishna is currently IBM senior vice president for Cloud and Cognitive Software, and was a principal architect of the company’s acquisition of Red Hat. 

James Whitehurst, IBM senior vice president and CEO of Red Hat, was also elected by the Board as IBM president, effective April 6, 2020. Virginia Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, will continue as executive chairman of the Board and serve through the end of the year, when she will retire after almost 40 years with the company.

“Arvind is the right CEO for the next era at IBM,” said Rometty. “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. Arvind has grown IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software business and led the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Through his multiple experiences running businesses in IBM, Arvind has built an outstanding track record of bold transformations and proven business results, and is an authentic, values-driven leader. He is well-positioned to lead IBM and its clients into the cloud and cognitive era.”

“Jim is also 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 to an even wider audience as part of IBM,” Rometty continued. “In Arvind and Jim, the Board has elected a proven technical and business-savvy leadership team.”

Virginia Rometty, 62, became chairman, president and chief executive officer of IBM in 2012.  During her tenure she made bold changes to reposition IBM for the future, investing in high value segments of the IT market and optimising the company’s portfolio.  Under Rometty’s leadership, IBM acquired 65 companies, built out key capabilities in hybrid cloud, security, industry and data, and AI both organically and inorganically, and successfully completed one of the largest technology acquisitions in history.  She reinvented more than 50% of IBM’s portfolio, built a $21 billion hybrid cloud business and established IBM’s leadership in AI, quantum computing and blockchain, while divesting nearly $9 billion in annual revenue to focus the portfolio on IBM’s high value, integrated offerings.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be elected as the next chief executive officer of IBM, and appreciate the confidence that Ginni and the Board have placed in me,” said Krishna. “IBM has such talented people and technology that we can bring together to help our clients solve their toughest problems. I am looking forward to working with IBMers, Red Hatters and clients around the world at this unique time of fast-paced change in the IT industry. We have great opportunities ahead to help our clients advance the transformation of their business while also remaining the global leader in the trusted stewardship of technology. Jim will be a great partner in the next step of this journey.”

Krishna, 57, is IBM senior vice president for Cloud and Cognitive Software, where he leads the IBM business unit that provides the cloud and data platform on which IBM’s clients build the future.  His current responsibilities also include the IBM Cloud, IBM Security and Cognitive Applications business, and IBM Research.  Previously, he was general manager of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group’s development and manufacturing organisation.  Prior to that he built and led 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, 52, is IBM senior vice president and CEO of Red Hat, which was acquired by IBM in 2019. He has been an avid advocate for open software as a catalyst for business innovation.  During his tenure at Red Hat, revenue grew over eight times and market capitalisation by more than 10 times.  He joined Red Hat from Delta Airlines, where he drove significant international expansion and as Chief Operating Officer oversaw all aspects of airline operations.  Prior to that he was a partner at The Boston Consulting Group. Whitehurst earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Economics from Rice University, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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