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- IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has a tough job turning around the 110-year-old tech titan.
- After an executive shake-up in July, Krishna’s top team now includes a few new faces.
- Meet the 20 leaders helping Krishna mount his new strategy: turning IBM into a hybrid cloud superpower.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Nearly a year and a half since Arvind Krishna took over the helm of 110-year-old IBM, a lot has happened:
Big Blue turned away from “consumer artificial intelligence” initiatives in favor of solving business problems with AI, continued investing in hybrid cloud computing, and affirmed its commitment to keeping IBM and open source company Red Hat independent. (It bought Red Hat at a sky-high $34 billion in 2019.)
IBM also bought more companies including the AI firm Turbonomic for about $1.5 billion — spending a total of $1.75 billion on acquisitions in the last quarter alone — and announced it would spin off its legacy IT consulting business into a new company called Kyndryl.
So far, it seems those bets have paid off. IBM’s second quarter earnings exceeded analyst expectations with $18.7 billion in quarterly revenue, up 3% from the same period prior — a much-needed shot of growth after years of revenue stagnation and decline.
But the numbers also come as IBM just went through its biggest leadership shake-up since Krishna took over as CEO. Insider profiled the 12 leaders who helped Krishna get settled at the company last year, but not all of those execs have stuck around: In July, former Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst resigned as president after less than three years in the role, in what analysts described to Insider as a significant loss.
Also that month, IBM veteran Bridget van Kralingen, another important deputy of Krishna’s, stepped down as senior vice president of global markets. IBM stock tumbled some 5% after news of the two departures broke.
The exit of those leaders also marks a critical turning point for IBM, analysts said, especially as Krishna continues forging ahead with the big priorities he’s outlined for the company: hybrid cloud and enterprise AI.
“These strategy imperatives have sharpened under Arvind Krishna’s leadership,” Gartner research vice president Chirag Dekate told Insider. “Its performance in the rest of the year will be an early indicator of the level of success of its transformation strategies.”
Eric Hanselman, an analyst at 451 Research, described the leadership shuffle as “consistent” with Krishna’s goals of a “cloud focus” and introducing new capabilities for its infrastructure products.
Here are the top 20 IBM leaders who’ve stepped up or were brought in during the company’s biggest exec shake-up since Krishna took over as CEO:
Stock Market Kathryn Guarini, chief information officer
Kathryn Guarini was announced as IBM’s chief information officer in March, replacing former CIO Fletcher Previn, now the chief digital officer of Cisco.
Guarini, an IBM veteran, previously served as chief operations officer and vice president of impact science for IBM Research.
In a press release announcing her appointment, CFO Jim Kavanaugh said IBM was looking for a leader who was “technically eminent,” with a “proven track-record in building organizational capability.”
Now one of IBM’s top female executives, Guarini oversees a global team of over 12,000 IT employees, all part of a single department that IBM calls a “centralized shared services model.”
Stock Market Nickle LaMoreaux, chief human resources officer
Nickle LaMoreaux is IBM’s top human resources executive, and has been with Big Blue for two decades.
She was promoted to her current role last September — meaning one of her biggest challenges over the past year has been navigating the pandemic’s impact on IBM’s 350,000 employees, and helping CEO Arvind Krishna ensure employees feel supported.
LaMoreaux told Insider in February that while in-person work facilitates creativity and innovation, IBM was still sorting through whether the same could be accomplished while working from home.
Some of IBM’s offices have been open since April, and Krishna has said the office would be “a constant” for over 80% of employees, but they would go into the office two or three days a week. The remaining 10% to 20% of its employees will be permanently remote, he said.
Stock Market Paul Cormier, CEO of Red Hat
Paul Cormier has been president and CEO of Red Hat since last April, but first joined the open source company two decades ago. He’s been with IBM since 2019, when IBM closed its acquisition of Red Hat at a massive price tag of $34 billion.
When he was president of products and technologies at Red Hat, Cormier led product and business initiatives such as its enterprise subscription model and expanding its hybrid cloud offerings.
In April, Cormier told Insider his fears IBM “would suck us in” haven’t panned out, and the two companies have shared business goals: “They’re finding opportunities for our sales force and then bringing them in when appropriate,” he said.
As the head of Red Hat, Cormier will continue to help IBM navigate its quest to become a hybrid cloud leader — a major priority under Krishna’s leadership — as it goes up against cloud giants Amazon and Microsoft.
Stock Market Martin Schroeter, CEO of Kyndryl
Martin Schroeter is the CEO of Kyndryl, the forthcoming independent company consisting of IBM’s IT consulting business. He was appointed as CEO of Kyndryl in January, and the new company is expected to be spun out from IBM by the end of the year.
Schroeter is no stranger to IBM, however, having served in a number of executive roles since joining IBM nearly three decades ago. He was its chief financial officer from 2014 to 2017, and was senior vice president of global markets until last April.
By putting a longtime executive in charge of Kyndryl, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna is betting on Schroeter’s relationships and reputation. In a press release announcing the appointment, Krishna said Schroeter has “a deep understanding of the industry and has earned the trust of our clients and of the investor community.”
Krishna also needs an experienced leader for Kyndryl so he can dedicate IBM resources toward hybrid cloud, which he previously called a $1 trillion dollar opportunity the company is “laser-focused on.”
Indeed, Gartner research vice president Chirag Dekate said the Kyndryl spinoff has the ability to “accelerate and sharpen IBM’s focus with a potential halo effect over its hybrid cloud platform.”
Stock Market Rob Thomas, senior vice president of global markets
Rob Thomas is IBM’s senior vice president of global markets, and was named to the role in July, replacing outgoing IBM veteran Bridget van Kralingen.
A two-decade IBM vet, Thomas was previously senior vice president of cloud and data platform, overseeing products such as Watson, IBM’s flagship AI platform.
In April, Thomas told Insider that its acquisition of IT automation company Turbonomic for a reported $1.5 to $2 billion — its second largest purchase since acquiring Red Hat for $34 billion — was part of IBM’s big bet on hybrid cloud.
Thomas is also an aide to CEO Arvind Krishna with a deep IBM background in key product areas. In a press release, Krishna called Thomas “the right leader to deliver what our clients need, especially as our new go-to-market strategy kicks into high gear.”
Stock Market Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software
Tom Rosamilia was announced as IBM’s senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software last month, taking over part of IBM exec Rob Thomas’s previous duties. Rosamilia is also the chairman of IBM North America.
A three-decade IBM veteran, Rosamilia was previously senior vice president of IBM Systems, the company’s server and storage systems unit.
451 Research analyst John Abbott told Insider that Rosamilia’s background leading IBM’s systems business would serve him well in his new role.
“[IBM] needs some sort of new systems initiative,” Abbott said, suggesting that the company tie its legacy mainframe systems into a single platform that integrates cloud services. “So I think those systems people might be quite key.”
Stock Market Ric Lewis, senior vice president of systems
Ric Lewis was appointed senior vice president of systems in July, replacing Tom Rosamilia, who now leads IBM’s cloud and cognitive software business.
Unlike many senior IBM leaders, Lewis is completely new to the company. He previously spent 32 years at Hewlett-Packard and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, leading divisions such as software, cloud, and hardware systems.
451 Research analyst John Abbott called Lewis “one to watch,” because of his background and where he might take IBM’s systems strategy. In a press release announcing Lewis’s appointment, CEO Arvind Krishna said he expected Lewis to “use his rich experience and expertise to take Systems to new heights.”
Stock Market Kelly Chambliss, senior vice president of global business services
Kelly Chambliss has been senior vice president of Americas and strategic sales in the IBM global business services (GBS) unit since July.
The GBS unit provides enterprise customers with IT services such as systems integration and application management, and is one of the largest professional services organizations in the world, according to IBM.
Chambliss was formerly CTO of GBS and managing partner of GBS North America. She has been with IBM since 2002, when the company bought PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting.
Insider profiled Chambliss in 2015, noting that she worked her way up in the organization and is active in IBM’s mentorship program for promising young women.
Stock Market Gary Cohn, vice chairman
Gary Cohn is the vice chairman of IBM, and was appointed to the role in January. He is also a member of IBM’s executive leadership team.
Cohn works directly with CEO Arvind Krishna and other top executives in areas such as client relationship management, client services, public advocacy, and business development, according to IBM.
Prior to joining IBM this year, Cohn was president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, and was also chief economic advisor to former president Donald Trump. Cohn left the Trump administration in 2018 following disagreements with the former president over tariffs and other policy issues.
In a press release on his appointment, Krishna called Cohn’s “knowledge of technology and business transformation” and “policymaking expertise” an asset to IBM as it pushes its hybrid cloud and AI strategy.
Stock Market Howard Boville, senior vice president of hybrid cloud
Howard Boville has been senior vice president of IBM hybrid cloud since May of 2020. Boville is responsible for IBM’s 60 cloud data centers, which are located across 19 countries according to the company.
A new face to IBM, Boville joined the company from Bank of America, where he was chief technology officer for eight years.
In his time at Big Blue so far, Boville has already helped launch its cloud for the
financial services industry
, telling Insider in April that IBM is “really moving at a much quicker pace in terms of meeting the specific needs of the marketplaces that we’re facing into.”
Stock Market Mark Foster, senior vice president of IBM services
Mark Foster is senior vice president of IBM’s professional services unit, a $48 billion business with 240,000 employees, according to the company.
Compared to other execs, Foster is relatively new to IBM with only five years at the company thus far. He previously spent about three decades at IBM services rival Accenture, where he led global markets and management consulting.
As a leader of one of IBM’s biggest units, Foster is responsible for helping CEO Arvind Krishna ensure a key area is running smoothly while the company pursues its new hybrid cloud and AI strategy.
Stock Market Dario Gil, senior vice president and director of IBM research
Dario Gil is senior vice president and director of IBM research, which employs over 3,000 researchers and is a nearly 80-year-old division of IBM.
Gil has held the role since 2017, but first joined IBM in 2003 as a member of the research staff, working his way up the department.
IBM’s research division conducts work in hybrid cloud, AI, quantum computing, and exploratory science — making Gil’s role a key part of CEO Arvind Krishna’s new company priorities.
Stock Market James Kavanaugh, chief financial officer
James Kavanaugh is IBM’s chief financial officer, a position he’s held since 2018.
Kavanaugh is a 25-year veteran of IBM, and previously held roles such as controller, vice president of finance, and senior vice president of transformation and operations.
As CFO, Kavanaugh reports directly to CEO Arvind Krishna and is responsible for the company’s financial operations. In that role, he helps to ensure that as IBM pivots to “becoming a technology company again,” as senior exec Rob Thomas put it, the company remains on steady financial footing.
Stock Market Roger Premo, general manager of corporate development and strategy
Roger Premo is in charge of IBM’s corporate development and strategy group, which shapes the company’s overall strategy.
Premo reports to CFO James Kavanaugh and joined IBM last May from Boston Consulting Group, where he led the consulting firm’s software division.
At IBM, Premo’s team also oversees the company’s push into hybrid cloud and AI across all its business units, making his appointment a key one for CEO Arvind Krishna’s priorities.
Stock Market Michelle Browdy, general counsel
Michelle Browdy is IBM’s general counsel and senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs. She has served as general counsel since 2015, and is the company’s first female top lawyer.
Prior to becoming general counsel, Browdy was IBM’s worldwide head of litigation for five years.
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Browdy is responsible for IBM’s regulatory affairs, corporate governance, and compliance, making her role important to ensuring the operational side of the company remains steady as it pursues a new product strategy.
Stock Market John Granger, chief operating officer of global business services
John Granger is the chief operating officer of IBM’s global business services (GBS) and a senior vice president of its cloud application innovation unit. GBS is IBM’s consulting and professional services arm, and its cloud application innovation business helps customers migrate to the cloud.
As with Kelly Chambliss, the senior vice president of GBS, Granger joined IBM in 2002 as part of its acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting.
Being in charge of IBM’s cloud application innovation team, Granger’s role is important to helping the company attract clients are moving to the cloud.
Stock Market Carla Piñeyro Sublett, chief marketing officer
Carla Piñyero Sublett is IBM’s chief marketing officer and a senior vice president. She joined in February and is a newer face to the company.
Prior to IBM, Sublett was chief marketing officer of National Instruments, and also led marketing at Rackspace and Dell.
Sublett’s role is critical to helping IBM reinvent itself as a hybrid cloud and AI leader — her team includes marketers across the world who shape the company’s brand image.
In a press release announcing her appointment, CEO Arvind Krishna said he was confident Sublett would “play a key role in bringing the power of IBM’s hybrid cloud and AI proposition to clients.”
Stock Market Juan Zufiria, senior vice president of global technology services
Juan Zufiria is a senior vice president of global technology services at IBM. He was appointed to the role in 2019, and oversees the company’s infrastructure services.
Zufiria joined IBM 33 years ago as a researcher in the company’s New York research center, and previously led global technology services for IBM Europe.
Stock Market Obed Louissaint, senior vice president of transformation and culture
Obed Louissaint is IBM’s senior vice president of transformation and culture. He was appointed to the role last August, and is IBM’s first Black senior vice president in nearly eight years, according to the company.
The transformation and culture team is all-new to IBM, and Louissaint oversees areas such as leadership, talent, learning, and diversity and inclusion. He first joined IBM in 2001 in the human resources group, working his way up to senior vice president.
In an interview with Insider last December, Louissaint said he was aiming to create a more inclusive workplace through “new collar” jobs, a term coined by IBM to describe roles that don’t require four-year college degrees.
Stock Market Bob Lord, senior vice president of worldwide ecosystems and blockchain
Bob Lord is IBM’s senior vice president of worldwide ecosystems and blockchain. He joined IBM in 2016 as its first chief digital officer, and was previously a president at AOL.
As a leader of IBM’s partner ecosystem, Lord is in charge of the company’s participation in various open source communities — a key initiative after its purchase of open source company Red Hat in 2019.
Lord told Insider last October that as a result of the Red Hat merger, the company is “getting to faster decisions than I’ve ever experienced.”
He reports directly to CEO Arvind Krishna, making him a key aide as IBM moves aggressively into hybrid cloud and AI.
Stock Market Departing IBM soon: Jim Whitehurst, senior advisor
Jim Whitehurst is a senior advisor to CEO Arvind Krishna and IBM’s executive leadership team, and will remain in the role for a few months. He was the company’s second-highest ranking leader and stepped down as president in July.
Whitehurst is also the former CEO of Red Hat, and led negotiations for its merger with IBM. After the deal closed, he and Krishna led the process of combining the two companies, though Whitehurst previously told Insider that joining IBM was a bit of a culture shock.
Whitehurst told Barron’s he left IBM because he wasn’t likely to get the CEO role there, and that he felt “really good” about the Red Hat integration.
Still, his departure will have a major impact on IBM. “It is a shame,” 451 Research analyst John Abbott told Insider of Whitehurst’s departure. “I thought he would have been an excellent potential leader there.”
Stock Market Departing IBM soon: Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of special projects
Bridget van Kralingen is a senior vice president of special projects, and will remain in the role until next July, when she plans to retire.
Kralingen was fomerly senior vice president of global markets, and first joined IBM in 2004. Along with being one of IBM’s top female executives, she was also known for creating and leading IBM’s blockchain business.
The announcement of Kralingen’s departure, as well as that of IBM president Jim Whitehurst, sent IBM stock tumbling some 5% last month.
In a press release announcing the change, CEO Arvind Krishna said Kralingen had agreed to stay on to help with his transition when he first took over as CEO last April.