(CBS) - We could not be happier to hear the news that Virginia Rometty was appointed IBM's chief executive officer. Not just because she's a woman, but because she's also an engineer with business savvy.
Rometty started her career at IBM as a systems engineer in 1981, as the Silicon Valley was on the verge of booming. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and electrical engineering at Northwestern University in 1979.
In a New York Times interview former CEO Samuel Palmisano spoke about the board of director's decision to elect Rommetty, who he called Ginni, to lead IBM. "Ginni got it because she deserved it," Mr. Palmisano said. "It's got zero to do with progressive social policies."
We agree. It's difficult to find a winning combination of technical knowledge and business intuition. One of the major mistakes of tech companies that flounder is choosing a leader who is more interested in the business aspect than the technology. It's clear that Rometty has the passion and talent for both.
According to the Associated Press, Forrester Research analyst Bobby Cameron said, "I think she's smart. She asks questions; she doesn't just come in with an agenda, and she's interested in the leading edge, not just what's driving volume - all those things are important for a CEO to have."
Rometty joins a small, but growing list of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. In the technology sector that list currently includes Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard and Ursula Burns of Xerox.
An article in USA Today reminds us that "as recently as 1996 there was only one female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, co-CEO Marion Sandler of Golden West Financial, acquired by Wachovia in 2006."
Counting Rometty and Whitman, there are now 17 CEOs heading up Fortune 500 companies, including Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods.
IBM reported that Rometty was responsible for the company's worldwide results, "which exceeded $99 billion in 2010."