Virginia Rometty

In 2002, Virginia Rometty, then IBM's head of business consulting, championed the risky acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. Rometty led PWC's smooth integration into the more regimented IBM, leading TIME to comment that her "people skills and relentless focus have some IBM insiders discussing her as future CEO material." That's exactly what she was. On Oct. 25, IBM boosted Rometty, 54, from head of sales and marketing to become its ninth CEO. She takes the reins from Sam Palmisano, who in 10 years as chief oversaw the company's shift to profitable software and business services. Rometty's quick ascent surprised analysts, but she...

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