KEY POINTS

  • Krishna is in the right  position to drive IBM on a futuristic track
  • He is a senior executive in IBM's cloud and cognitive software division
  • Krishna joins an exclusive club of Indian-origin executives 

Arvind Krishna, who will succeed Ginny Rometty as chief executive officer of IBM on April 6, has been in the right role to give a futuristic thrust to the Big Blue as a senior vice-president. The 57-year-old veteran is currently in the cloud and cognitive software division that is abuzz with excitement over the rapid development of cloud technology, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Rometty said as much when she described Krishna as the “right CEO for the next era at IBM” and “well-positioned” to lead the company into future.

The top-level reshuffle at IBM will see Jim Whitehurst, former CEO of Red Hat that IBM bought last year for $34 billion, joining IBM as president. Rometty, 62, will remain the executive chairman until yearend.

Arvind Krishna to take over as IBM CEO in April 2020 Arvind Krishna, who will succeed Ginny Rometty as IBM CEO in April 2020. Photo: @IBM/twitter

A graduate of IIT Kanpur, one of the premier technical institutions of India, Krishna, joined IBM in 1990 after a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked at various executive positions. He was the main force behind the acquisition of Red Hat, the open-source software rival of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be elected as the next CEO of IBM, and appreciate the confidence that Ginni and the Board have placed in me,” Krishna said in a press statement that IBM released. “IBM has such talented people and technology that we can bring together to help our clients solve their toughest problems.”

Krishna’s elevation will mean another addition to a long list of high-flying Indian-origin executives with top U.S. companies. The biggest names among them are Indra Nooyi, who recently quit the top post in Pepsi Co and moved to Amazon as a director, Sundar Pichai at Google-parent Alphabet Inc, Satya Nadella at Microsoft, and Shantanu Narayen at Adobe Inc.

IBM Rometty IBM Chairwoman and CEO Virginia "Ginni" Rometty speaks at an IBM Watson event in lower Manhattan, New York, Jan. 9, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A regular on the Forbes list of world’s most influential women, Indra Nooyi, 64, was born in Chennai, formerly Madras. She did her graduation from the University of Madras and a post-graduation in management from the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata. She also did a master's from the Yale School of Management in public and private management. Nooyi started out with Johnson & Johnson in India but moved to the U.S. to work with the Boston Consulting Group. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and became its CEO in 2006. She is currently serving as a member of the board of directors of Amazon.

Pichai, 47, was born in Madurai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and worked as a materials engineer before joining Google as an executive in 2004. He took over as CEO of Google in 2015 and of Alphabet in December last year. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, he did his MS from Stanford University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Nadella, 52, was born in Hyderabad. He did his graduation from Manipal Institute of Technology, MS in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 after a stint with rival Sun Microsystems.

Shantanu Narayen, 56, was born in Hyderabad and graduated from Osmania University before doing an MBA at the University of California, Berkeley. After a stint with Apple, Narayen joined Adobe in 1998 and succeeded in the CEO’s post in 2007. He also served on the Management Advisory Board constituted by President Barack Obama.

There are others like Ajay Banga at MasterCard, Francisco D’Souza at Cognizant, Dinesh Paliwal at Samsung subsidiary Harman International, Sanjay Mehrotra at Micron Technology, and Ashok Vemuri at Conduent, who are on the list that seems to be growing.