IBM Appoints James Kavanaugh as Chief Financial Officer


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IBM just quietly prompted artificial intelligence 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. 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 . IBM sees AI as a key driver of its growth.

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.

IBM, one of the world’s original PC producers but now a broad-based producer, integrator and software maker, beat expectations for revenue in its last quarterly results in October after 22 straight quarters of declines.

Earlier in the day, technology website The Register reported, citing unnamed company sources, that IBM plans to reassign up to 30 percent of staff in its 103,000 computer service delivery business this year with job cuts through attrition of around 10,000.

“We do not comment on speculation,” an IBM spokesman said, when asked about the report.

The Register published a slide it said was from an IBM internal document, which showed 10,100 jobs classified as “attrition w/o backfill”.

“Many consultants recommend things to IBM, many of which remain merely recommendations,” IBM said.

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