IBM just replaced its chief financial officer

IBMJames J. Kavanaugh was named CFO of IBM on Thursday, according to an SEC filing.
  • IBM veteran James J. Kavanaugh will take over as CFO.
  • Kavanaugh replaces Martin J. Schroeter, who’s served as CFO since 2014. Schroeter will take on the role as SVP of global markets.
  • Both role changes went into effect Thursday, according to the filing.

IBM just quietly promoted veteran James J. Kavanaugh to the role of chief financial officer, according to a form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

Kavanaugh, who served as senior vice president of transformation and operations, replaces Martin J. Schroeter, who had served as CFO since 2014. Schroeter will take on the role of senior vice president of global markets.

The change went into effect on Thursday. Both Kavanaugh and Schroeter will lead IBM’s upcoming earnings report on January 18, according to the filing.

“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,” an IBM spokesperson told Reuters, confirming the move.

Kavanaugh first joined IBM from AT&T in 1996, and has held a number of different executive roles since.

His most recent role focused on “enabling IBM’s transformation to a data driven cognitive enterprise,” according to his company profile. At IBM, “cognitive” refers to the company’s work in artificial intelligence and machine learning, including its Jeopardy-winning computer system Watson. Kavanaugh focused on using cognitive analytics for internal transformation at the company.

Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley wrote in an analyst note that she views the transition as coming “from a position of strength.” “Interestingly, Martin’s new role is a similar position current CEO, Ginni Rometty, held before she succeeded Sam Palmisano as CEO,” Huberty wrote. “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.”

Wamsi Mohan, analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was similarly nonplussed.

“We expect the transition to be seamless and view the timing as inline with typical senior IBM executive changes at the beginning of the year,” Mohan wrote.

News of the transition comes just hours after a report that IBM plans to lay off 30% of the staff in its computer service delivery business, which would affect around 3,090 jobs. IBM has not so far commented on the report.

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