Arun Sudhaman 08 Aug 2017 // 12:54PM GMT
ARMONK, NEW YORK — Jon Iwata has taken on the newly-created role as chief brand officer at IBM, after nine years overseeing marketing and communications, the Holmes Report can reveal.
Iwata, one of the most influential figures in the communications discipline, remains an SVP and continues to report to Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO. As chief brand officer, he is charged with stewarding the IBM brand across multiple stakeholders —clients, investors, employees, communities — and transforming the technology giant's culture. "If you've heard Jon speak at an event, you know that he strongly believes that IBM's brand and culture are indivisible," said an IBM spokesperson.
The new position, which Iwata took on this month, comes after serving as marketing and communications SVP since 2008. Iwata will continue to oversee global communications, corporate citizenship and corporate affairs. However, marketing chief Michelle Peluso has been elevated to SVP and now reports directly to Rometty, after reporting into Iwata when he recruited her as IBM's first-ever CMO last year.
Iwata's tenure as marketing and communications SVP saw him become one of the first communications execs to lead an integrated function, still something of a rarity in the business world. Underpinning his leadership was the development of several strategic brand platforms, including e-business, Smarter Planet and Watson.
Those efforts help explain why Rometty has also named Iwata chairman of the newly-created IBM Values and Policy Advisory Board — which aims to recommend policy and principles for the corporation on a wide range of issues — a recent example being IBM's Principles on Artificial Intelligence. Iwata will continue to shape the company's strategic dialogue on issues and policies at the intersection of business, technology and society.
IBM's communications function has seen the departure of two leading executives in recent months — chief communications officer Andy Whitehouse after less than a year; and external relations head Jeff DeMarrais at the end of 2016.
In an internal memo at the time of Whitehouse's departure, Iwata said that he "will be spending more time directly with our communications leaders."
Iwata joined IBM in 1984 at the company’s Almaden Research Center in Silicon Valley, before being named SVP of communications in 2002.