Chairwoman, President and CEO of IBM, Virginia Marie Rometty is the first woman to take the helm at IBM. Named one Fortune 500’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in Fortune magazines for ten years running, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Her rise to IBM leadership started in her college years when she was named president of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Upon her graduation from Northwestern University, she worked for General Motors Institute before joining IBM in 1991. A few steps along the way to President and CEO:
- joined IBM as a systems engineer – 1991
- oversaw the $3.5 billion purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting
- named Senior Vice President and Group Executive for sales, marketing, and strategy – 2009
- appointed President and CEO of IBM – 2011
The first woman CEO in IBM’s history, Rometty received acclaim for leading IBM into cloud computing technology and analytics. Admired by many for her rise from a difficult childhood, she credits her mother as her hero and inspiration. The divorce of her parents, when she was 15 years old, had a lasting impact on Miss Rometty. She saw her mother take the helm of her family despite never having worked outside her home. Following the break-up of her marriage, her mother earned a degree by taking college classes at night. She also worked multiple jobs to support herself and her children. Of her mother’s perseverance, she says, “She got an education. She got a great job. She was determined that we would succeed.”
In a recent keynote address, Rometty talked about the early stages of her career when she nearly turned down a promotion because she didn’t feel prepared for the responsibilities the role required. Rometty eventually pushed herself to accept the new job and excelled at it. After sharing this personal experience, she urged listeners to take risks, keep learning, and work at something they’re passionate about.
Ginni Rometty continues to steer IBM into the digital age following her succession to Chairwoman of the Board of Directors In 2012. Of life lessons, Miss Rometty says, “I’ve made lots of mistakes. Probably the worst one – I would say they tie. It’s either when I didn’t move fast enough on something, or I didn’t take a big enough risk.”
54 years old when she was named CEO of IBM, Miss Rometty’s life teaches women of all ages three important life lessons. First, she shows us that age is only a number. You’re never too old or too young to make major strides an accomplishments. Second, she (and her mother) are proof that a difficult start does not have to mean a difficult life. Finally, she’s an example that women have and will continue to have a place in the technology world.
Take the reins of your life and forge the life you want and deserve. Like she admired and learned from her mother, Ginni Rometty serves as an inspiration and role model for women today. What risks are you willing to take to create the life and success you want?