IBM CEO Ginni Rometty will leave the post in April, the company announced last week. Rometty will be replaced by Arvind Krishna, a senior vice president who runs the company’s cloud computing business. Krishna’s technical chops seem sure to excite the company’s engineers. Krishna, an IEEE Senior Member with bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering, joined IBM in 1990 and spent years in the company’s technical ranks before moving into management, co-authoring 15 patents along the way. Most recently, he led IBMs efforts in artificial intelligence and quantum computing as well as cloud. Rometty, who holds a bachelor’s in computer science and electrical engineering, joined IBM as a systems analyst in 1981, before moving into sales and marketing posts about a decade later.
Former employees, posting in the Facebook group “Watching IBM,” didn’t mince words about their joy in Rometty’s departure. Their reaction is not surprising, given that she ran the Big Blue as it laid off wave after wave of engineers—including many who had spent most of their careers at the company.
But what do current employees think?
Blind, the company that provides anonymous social networks for employees within specific workplaces, surveyed its current pool of 4100 verified IBM employees to find out. Of the 105 who responded, the vast majority—66.7 percent—think that Krishna will have a positive impact as the new CEO of IBM. Only 5.7 percent of respondents predicted a negative impact, while 27.6 percent remained neutral.
One respondent to the Blind survey said, “I believe Arvind Krishna will be a net positive, and will focus on making IBM about tech again rather than marketing hype.”
By contrast, only 28.6 percent of the respondents indicated that Rometty had a positive impact during her tenure as CEO, with 71.4 percent indicating that was not the case. Of Rometty, another survey respondent said, “She thrived in the ‘tardy, bureaucratic mess’ so couldn't see why it was killing the company's future.”
And, though Rometty was the first woman to head the company, a move celebrated as a crack in the glass ceiling, 96.2 percent of respondents to Blind’s survey do not believe her departure will negatively impact diversity and inclusion efforts at the company.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.