Women are pioneering their way through the business world as emerging leaders of major companies, and Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty is one of these women. Beginning in January 2012, Rometty became Chairwoman, President, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). According to IBM’s website, the company is committed to creating a more innovative world in which advanced technological change will be coupled with increased human productivity. That being said, Rometty is in charge of a fast-paced environment where her decisions are constantly revolved around how IBM can better society.
IBM sustains a $79.1 billion revenue and operates on a pre-tax income of $12.9 billion, according to the company’s webpage. The main components of the business revolve around healthcare and life sciences, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and quantum computing. The company is, “Driven to discover,” stated on their website. They are in charge of over 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located over 6 continents, stressing their influence as one of the leading corporate researchers. With this responsibility comes the right leaders for the job. This is where Ginni Rometty plays a crucial role.
While she became CEO in 2012, Rometty began her career with IBM in 1981 and held several leadership positions before advancing to the top of the company. Her education from Northwestern University gave her a bachelor’s degree with high honors in computer science and electrical engineering, showcasing the knowledge she had acquired in order to take on the responsibilities at IBM. For example, Rometty led the “successful integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, creating a global team of more than 100,000 business consultants and services experts,” early on in her career at IBM, according to an article on IBM’s website.
One major goal of hers that stood out, in particular, was her dedication to diversity and inclusion. To ensure these qualities actually exist in the workplace, Rometty has extended parental leave and made it easier for women to return to their jobs through a “returnships” program. Ginny was awarded the Catalyst Award in 2018 for advancing diversity and women’s initiatives, which was included in her biography on the company’s website. In addition, she strives to equip workers without college degrees for “new collar” jobs within technology. According to the same article, “The IBM-created Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) education model is a six-year program that prepares students for career success by combining high school with a community college degree, mentoring and internships — all within existing local education budgets.” This initiative stresses Rometty’s desire to increase jobs in an ethical manner.
Going off of ethics, Rometty was a part of IBM when it became the first to “publish long-held principles of trust for AI, data responsibility and data transparency, according to the same article. Ethics is crucial in a business conducting technological feats, so it is imperative that their CEO’s mindset is focused on taking these ethical boundaries into consideration. Rometty’s ethical standards were developed early in her life, beginning with difficult family situations.
Coming from a poverty-stricken family, Rometty appreciated the concept of hard work early on. Her father left her mother and three siblings when she was 16 years old. They had to live off of food stamps until her mother went back to school and landed a good job. This inspired Rometty to take her education seriously, as she was rewarded with an honors degree and a full-time position with General Motors right out of college. A year later, she accepted an offer from IBM and her career soared from there.
In a Makers article, Rometty said, “Growth and comfort never coexist. If you want to grow as a leader you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You welcome risk because you know you come out better on the other side.” Ginni Rometty’s words left a resounding impact on me as she has proved you are what you make out of your situation. Her passion for achieving the best for yourself and the world around you has been a leading indicator of her career success. She was named to Bloomberg’s “50 Most Influential People in the World” and Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” according to an interview on Makers.
Rometty’s inspiring drive to grow and succeed has provided an exceptional image to women of what they are capable of achieving in the corporate world. Her involvement goes beyond working at IBM, as she is co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cyber Group, serves on the Council on Foreign Relations at Northwestern, and is a member on the board of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, according to her biography. Rometty’s corporate and volunteer experience is a representation that women can truly do it all.
By: Emma Harwood