When she became CEO of IBM in 2012, Virginia Rometty programmed an immediate and radical course correction for Big Blue. A home-grown exec – Rometty joined the New York headquartered company in 1981 – she has succeeded in dragging the IT giant into the Information Age.
Year took up current function: 2012
Turnover in 2018: $79.5bn
Growth in 2018: 1%
If the 1% increase in turnover in 2018 appears modest compared to the growth of other companies in this ranking, the value of this positive result is that it brings to an end seven years of stagnation. IBM, it would seem, has finally found its second wind.
In order to revitalize the computer company, the Chicago native implemented an ambitious and risky strategy, jettisoning the server and microchip activities which had made IBM’s name in the latter part of the last century and instead concentrating on cloud computing, big data, AI and cybersecurity, areas where IBM’s chief rivals, such as Google and Microsoft, had a considerable head-start. Undeterred, ‘Ginni’ as she is known to IBM staff, set about catching them up, first by divesting IBM of unwanted assets, such as Lotus, and acquiring SoftLayer and Red Hat, two cloud computing startups.
The 62 year old has tapped into the reserves of corporate trust IBM enjoys in the telecoms and banking and finance sectors. This B-to-B avenue has lead to the signing of a number of lucrative contracts, not least of which a multi-year agreement with AT&T worth several billion dollars.