IBM has announced that Virginia Rometty will take over on January 1 as President and CEO from Sam Palmisano.

Rometty is currently a Senior Vice President. In her current role, Rometty has been responsible for the revenue, profit and client satisfaction in the 170 global markets in which IBM does business and has also overseen IBM's global strategy, marketing and communications functions, a release from the company has said.

Rometty, who is known as Ginni, has also been elected to IBM's board of directors, effective immediately, the release says. She will be the first woman to serve as IBM's CEO.

Rometty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Northwestern University and joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. She has held a variety of senior executive positions at the company over the years and notably oversaw the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers after IBM bought the consulting firm for $3.5bn in 2002.

Palmisano has been CEO for nearly a decade and turned 60 this year, and was widely expected to hand over charge to a new CEO. He retains the role of Chairman.

Ginni Rometty has successfully led several of IBM's most important businesses over the past decade -- from the formation of IBM Global Business Services to the build-out of our Growth Markets Unit, Palmisano said in a statement. But she is more than a superb operational executive. With every leadership role, she has strengthened our ability to integrate IBM's capabilities for our clients. She has spurred us to keep pace with the needs and aspirations of our clients by deepening our expertise and industry knowledge.

There is no greater privilege in business than to be asked to lead IBM, especially at this moment, Rometty said.