“The amazing thing about IBM is that it’s a company where I have had 10 different careers – local jobs, global jobs, technology jobs, industry jobs, financial services, insurance, start-ups, and big scale. The network of talent around you is phenomenal.” – Ginni Rometty – CEO, Chairman and President of IBM.
IBM’s shares got an enormous boost recently and that can be attributed to its influential and charismatic CEO, Ginni Rometty. She has been working for IBM for over 37 years now, sinceshe joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. In the January of 2012, she became the president and CEO of IBM and since then has led IBM’s resurgence. IBM holds the record for most patents generated by a business (as of 2017) consecutively for 24 years. The illustrious list includes ATM machines, floppy disks, hard drives and SQL programming languages to name a few. From Watson to Deep Blue, IBM stands as one of the pioneers in the computer and IT industry. And just like Satya Nadella for Microsoft, Ginni Rometty has started a real revolution for IBM that has turned the tides for the technology giant.
Following are the 5 leadership qualities of Ginni Rometty that are leading IBM back to its glory days.
A Woman of Substance
Nobody is oblivious to the lack of female executives in the top companies of the world.. And Ginni Rometty was fully aware of this fact in 2012 when she assumed the office as the CEO, Chairman and President of IBM. Even now she speaks of this fact in a manner that is highly admirable. In her quote below, she is clear about the role of women in business without compromising their roles in building their homes and raising children.
“You’ve got to keep women in the workforce, whether it’s through having children, caring for elder parents, all the things. Not that husbands, spouses, and partners don’t do those things as well, but it’s often what takes them out, and then to get them back in is hard. You keep them in the workforce and your odds are much higher. And that’s one of the many things we do (at IBM)”
Heading a leading conglomerate like IBM in different managerial and executive positions during volatile times, such as the Dot Com Bubble burst in 2001 and the worldwide market turmoil in 2007-8, can be a tough nut to crack. And taking risks by applying sweeping changes/strategies to beat your rivals is Ginni Rometty’s forte. She has always been aware that growth and comfort don’t usually coexist. She knows that the best way to grow is to try new things and break the glass ceiling.
Dealing with Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing is one way how IBM successfully maintained its supremacy over its competitors in a fierce market. Nicknamed Big Blue, IBM continues to grow under Rometty’s charismatic leadership. Even though she has been facing the wrath of the critics for being too blunt and bold in her decisions but just the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers by IBM, when Rometty was leading IBM’s consulting group in 2002, was a testament to the fact that she knows how to take calculated risks that pay off well in the future.
Action Speaks Louder than Words
Ginni’s humble beginnings and a simple but hard-fought childhood was one of the many reasons she molded into a tougher version of herself. She knew right from the day when she joined IBM that her job won’t be a bed of roses, and the hard work and diligence she put into her work speak volumes about her industriousness. Over the last 5 years under her leadership, IBM witnessed continuous change and evolved with the times. IBM used to splurge billions of dollars on research and development each year. In the year that Rometty was declared the CEO of IBM, that amount escalated to 6.9 billion dollars.
In 2014, Rometty allocated 1 billion dollars to create a business unit for Watson and 3 billion dollars to fashion a next-generation semiconductor. She doesn’t lust after fame by regularly corresponding with media or tweeting to solicit cheap attention from the media. Her actions embody her desire to make IBM the best IT and technology company in the world.
Aligning the Workforce
Right after taking charge of IBM in 2012, she made sure to align the workforce and motivate employees to the fullest. And the result was phenomenal to say the least. She made sure that IBM maintained its brilliant run at the market by posting a net income of 16.48 billion dollars in 2013, which was just shy of 16.6 billion dollars the year before.
Rometty explained in an interview how she successfully aligned the huge workforce at IBM worldwide (380,000 as of 2016). She achieved this by following long-term strategic beliefs around which employees can jointly focus. She made sure her employees come to work each day brimming with confidence and self-belief to achieve a common goal and purpose.
Reinventing the Company
Constantly reinventing themselves is the mantra for all of the employees at IBM. And Ginni Rometty is the person behind this idea. She thinks that Data is what the world will be looking for in the future as without correct and precise data, nothing can be done. According to her, “20% of the world’s data is searchable. Anybody can get to that 20%. But 80% of the world’s data is where I think the real gold is, whether its decades of underwriting, pricing, customer experience, risk in loans – that is all with our clients. You don’t want to share it. That is gold.”
IBM has recently acquired the Weather Company and has collaborated with Salesforce.com to refine IBM’s AI program, Watson. These are just two of the examples that prove how IBM is taking huge strides to keep pace with its competitors. And the role of Ginni Rometty is pivotal in this regard.
IBM is one of the largest tech companies in the world but its importance and authority somewhat faded during the last 2 decades. But since Ginni Rometty was handed over the baton, she has made use of her vast experience and IBM has shown a remarkable turnaround. She was instrumental behind the selling of the semiconductor manufacturing operations of IBM even when many argued with her decision. But time has proved her right again and again as she is leading IBM towards success and never hesitates when it comes to taking calculated risks.
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