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If you haven’t heard of Virginia “Ginni” Rometty yet, there’s no better time. The current Chair[woman] and CEO of IBM, Rometty has been listed in TIME’s Top 10 Women in Technology, as well as Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. After graduating with high honors from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in 1979, Rometty worked for General Motors briefly before beginning her long career at IBM [1].

In an interview at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit in 2011, Rometty told the audience about one of the mistakes she made early in her career when she was offered a powerful position: “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.’” She told the person who offered her the job that she would need to think about it. Later that evening, she discussed the situation with her husband, who asked her, “Do you think a man would have ever answered that question that way?” Reflecting on the experience, Rometty said, “What it taught me was you have to be very confident even though you’re so self-critical inside about what it is you may or may not know….” She encouraged the audience members to quiet their own self-critics in order to take risks on a deeper level. “Someone once told me growth and comfort do not coëxist, and I think that’s a really good thing to remember,” she added.

As for her business philosophy, Rometty does not “believe in the inevitable,” which is to say that she does not believe that things have to turn out a particular way. Rometty says, “What I have learned from this idea is that whatever business you’re in, it doesn’t matter; it’s going to commoditize over time, it’s going to devalue. You’ve got to keep moving it to a higher value… in whatever it is that you do. Force yourself and force your organization [to do it], and always do it ahead of time” [2].

Rometty is known for “combin[ing] performance and charisma,” [3] as well as leading “from both her head and her heart” [4]. Only time will tell what great things she will continue to do as one of the foremost female leaders in technology and business. For Rometty, success might just be inevitable.


Article written by Emily Grandjean



[1] Ginni Rometty, Wikipedia.

[2] IBM’s Ginni Rometty on taking risks, YouTube.

[3] IBM Names Virginia Rometty as New Chief Executive, The New York Times.

[4] IBM’s Ginni Rometty Looks Ahead, Fortune.