Millionaire Story – Virginia Marie Rometty – 1st Female CEO of IBM

International Business Machine (IBM) has been around for about a hundred years. For many of those, when you thought of IBM, you thought of up tight men in black suits and ties. That has changed!

In October of 2011, Virginia Marie Rometty was named the CEO of IBM – the first woman to be so named.

She is a self made millionaire – with a salary in 2011 according to Business Week of $8,342,270.


Born in 1957, she was 54 when named CEO. She graduated from Northwester University in 1979 with a bachelors degree with honors in computer science and electrical engineering.

Although she did a stint with one other company after graduating, she has been with IBM since 1981 where she started as a systems engineer. Even as a technician she realized she must be more. The Forte Foundation quotes her as saying:

“As a systems engineer, I needed to look outward, beyond strictly technical issues to the higher-order business issues my clients were trying to address. That meant I needed to combine my technical knowledge with expertise in a specific industry, and I needed to build trust with clients – they needed to know I understood their challenges.”

She honed that into the reputation she still has as one of the most client-centric leaders in the IT industry. She spends many hours on the world meeting world wide with clients.

She moved through multiple areas of the company, growing in leadership with each one. In 1991 she was in the consulting group, in 2002, as a Senior Vice President she championed acquiring PriceWaterHouseCoopers consulting.

In 2006 she was awarded the Sloane Award, given by the Association of Management Consulting Firms for developing global delivery centers in China and India.

She became senior VP of marketing and sales in 2009 getting the company into cloud computing.


Her husband of 32 years, Mark, has been very supportive of her advancement, helping her at critical points in her career. According to the New York Times, Ginni tells this story about him:

“Early in my career, I can remember being offered a big job,” she told a Fortune magazine conference on women and careers last month. “I right away said, ‘You know what? I’m not ready for this job. I need more time, I need more experience and then I could really do it well.’ And so I said to him, ‘I need to go home and think about it.’ …— And my husband at the time, as usual, I’m blah-blah-blahing, and he’s just sitting there. And as I’m telling him about this, and I told him I would get back to them tomorrow. And he said to me, he looked at me, and he just looked at me and he said, ‘Do you think a man would have ever answered that question that way?’ And I sort of sat there — and it taught me a lesson. And he said, “I know you, you go do it, you’re going to — six months you’re going to be bored.’ “

Both Mark and Ginny are intensely private. They both enjoy scuba diving and Broadway plays. They met when they both attended the GM Institute at the start of their careers.

They have no children and divide their time between homes in New York and Bonita Springs, Fla.

He is a principal investor in Bam Oil and is treasurere and secretary.

Other roles

Per Business Week “She is a leader in IBM’s diversity initiatives, including the Women in Technology Council and the Women’s Leadership Council and is one of the Senior Vice President sponsors of the Women’s Executive Council at IBM”

Its a shame that one of the biggest news stories about IBM this year has been whether she will be invited to join the all male Masters little golf club – for gosh sakes, how stupid!




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