Virginia "Ginni" Rometty, who is the current head of the company's sales and marketing, will take over as CEO from Sam Palmisano, IBM announced
The 54-year-old computer science and engineering graduate will officially take over the helm of the giant technology company on January 1, 2012.
The current CEO Sam Palmisano will remain as IBM Chairman.
With her appointment, two powerful women are now at the helm of two of the world's largest technology companies. The other female CEO is Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard Co., who ran for California governor last year but lost. Whitman is also the former CEO of eBay.
Jean Bozman, an analyst with IDC who has closely followed the companies in the past said the appointment of these topnotch female executives are "setting a fabulous example" in the promotion of female executives
"It is a good sign," Bozman said.
"It does create an environment in which more of these high-ranking women executives can see that's within reach. The more that happens, the more normal that will be. I think this might be a great sign that we've turned a corner. Certainly the Baby Boomers have wanted this for a long time."
Rometty made her mark in the IBM circle with the smooth integration of PriceWaterhouseCooper's consulting arm into the IBM technology consulting business.
"She has done well at IBM. She has contributed to their expansion overseas -- emerging markets -- and has done a fantastic job in that space," said Morningstar analyst Sunit Gogia
. "All the public knowledge about her performance is very encouraging."
But "computing is an industry that is always evolving," Gogia said. "It's moving into an era of cloud computing. The company will have to reinvent itself for the future, stay with the times and maintain the revenue base when they do that."
IBM was founded by Thomas Watson in 1911
in Endicott, New York and is currently the second-largest publicly traded technology company in the world by market capitalization.
The company's 2010 revenue was placed at US$ 99.870 billion.