The dream story of the American worker is one where an individual with an aptitude for a skill can find work at a big company to earn a living. Over years, with hard work and additional training/education, the dream of the worker is to someday take over management of the company they started at. That dream comes true with increasingly less frequency as competition, mergers, and radical shifts in the marketplace have companies rising and falling faster than ever. But one of the great success stories for the American dream came true recently when Virginia Rometty took the reins at IBM!
Virginia Rometty is the first woman to serve as CEO of IBM. Perhaps as significant, Rometty represents what is essentially a one-company worker! While the tech sector is filled with volatile trades and radical restructurings involving executives and personnel, Virginia Rometty has spent most of her professional career steadily working her way up the corporate ladder at IBM alone. The fact that Rometty is a woman is arguably less significant than the fact that she lasted more than thirty years with the tech giant!
A student at Northwestern University in the mid-1970’s, Virginia Rometty was fascinated by electronics. She studied at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and graduated from there with high honors. Armed with her Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science and Engineering, Rometty immediately joined the tech sector workforce in 1979! Her first position after graduation was with the General Motors Institute. She only stayed there until 1981.
Starting as a systems engineer in IBM’s Detroit office, Virginia Rometty found her place at IBM. It took her ten years, but in 1991, Rometty moved from the engineering department to IBM’s Consulting Group. It was in that capacity that Virginia Rometty advised the IBM Board of Directors to buy PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. The acquisition may have cost IBM $3.5 billion, but it put her firmly on the radar of the company’s executives. She was promoted to Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing, and Strategy when the company realized just how worthwhile her perspective and business acumen were!
When Sam Palmisano resigned as President and CEO of IBM, the hard-working, forward-thinking Virginia Rometty was chosen to replace him. The move, which put a research and development-oriented executive in charge, led to a rise in IBM’s stock. While it is still early in her leadership of IBM, it is very likely that with Virginia Rometty at the head of the company, IBM has some very exciting times ahead of it!
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