James Kavanaugh Named IBM Finance Chief

The 22-year company veteran replaces Martin Schroeter, who becomes senior vice president of global markets.
Matthew HellerJanuary 12, 2018

IBM has named James Kavanaugh, a 22-year company veteran, as its new CFO, replacing Martin Schroeter.

Kavanaugh moved immediately into his new job after serving for three years as a senior vice president heading IBM’s transformation efforts. He was previously controller from May 2008 to January 2015.

Schroeter, who steps down as finance chief after four years in the position, becomes senior vice president, global markets. Both Kavanaugh and Schroeter will report to Chief Executive Ginni Rometty.

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“It’s very common for IBM to make senior executive changes at the start of the year, so this is not out of the ordinary in that sense,” a company spokesman told Reuters.

IBM said in a regulatory filing that “no compensation decisions have been made in connection with these events and additional information will be disclosed when those decisions are made.”

Kavanaugh joined IBM in 1996 from AT&T, where he was chief financial officer, Americas Global Services. He worked for the company in France, oversaw financial management and operations across the U.S., Canada and Latin America at IBM’s Americas Group, and spent two years as vice president of finance and operations for the Sales & Distribution division.

At Transformation and Operations, he was responsible for enabling IBM’s transformation to a data driven cognitive enterprise.

“At IBM, ‘cognitive’ refers to the company’s work in artificial intelligence and machine learning, including its Jeopardy-winning computer system Watson,” Markets Insider reported. “Kavanaugh focused on using cognitive analytics for internal transformation at the company.”

Analyst Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley viewed the transition as coming “from a position of strength.”

“Interestingly, [Schroter’s] new role is a similar position current CEO, Ginni Rometty, held before she succeeded Sam Palmisano as CEO,” she wrote in a client note. “We don’t believe the company would make this change if the financial trajectory tied to the transformation into a cognitive-led, cloud delivered company wasn’t on track.”