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Learning from Leaders

Learning from Leaders: Sam Palmisano in Conversation with Jon Iwata

Wednesday, Mar 23 2022 at 12:00 - 1:00 pm EDT

Sam Palmisano, former IBM CEO, joins Jon Iwata, Yale SOM Executive Fellow, to explore the meaning of stakeholder capitalism for the CEO agenda. During his 10 years leading IBM, Palmisano created significant value for customers, investors, employees and society, while driving a dramatic transformation of the company. Hear how senior leaders are reimagining their companies today, in an era of data, AI and radical change.


Sam Palmisano

Former CEO, IBM

Samuel J. Palmisano is the Chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted to the study of the contemporary corporation, the management science in a globally interconnected world. The CGE was established in 2013 to help educate societal stakeholders – as well as leaders from the private sector, public sector, and academia –on the globally integrated economy and its promise for a better future.

From January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2011, Samuel J. Palmisano was chairman, president and chief executive officer of IBM. He was chairman of the Board from January through September 2012 and served as a senior adviser to IBM until his retirement on December 1, 2012. Under his leadership, IBM achieved record financial performance, introduced Watson and its Smarter Planet agenda.

Mr. Palmisano began his career with IBM in 1973 in Baltimore, Maryland. In a 39-year career with the company, he held leadership positions that included senior vice president and group executive of the Personal Systems Group, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Global Services, senior vice president and group executive of Enterprise Systems and president and chief operating officer.

Mr. Palmisano is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University. Among his many business accomplishments, Mr. Palmisano was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Johns Hopkins University in 2012 and from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2005. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the London Business School. Mr. Palmisano has received a number of business awards, including the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Business Leadership Award in 2009 and the inaugural Deming Cup, presented in 2010 by the W. Edwards Deming Center for Quality, Productivity and Competitiveness at Columbia Business School. In 2013, Mr. Palmisano was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his many accomplishments during his successful career at IBM, as well as for his personal commitment to French-American friendship. He is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as co-chair of the Council on Competitiveness’s National Innovation Initiative.

Mr. Palmisano was the Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission focused on enhancing national cybersecurity under President Obama. Prior to that, he and Ambassador Negroponte co-chaired the task force on Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet for the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Palmisano is a member of the Board of Directors for Bloomberg Philanthropies. In addition, he has founded Palmisano LLC which partners with Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital and is focused on investments in emerging technology segments.

Jon Iwata

Ogilvy Fellow at Yale School of Management

Jon Iwata is Ogilvy Fellow with Yale Center for Customer Insights at Yale School of Management, an appointment he received upon his retirement from IBM in 2018, capping a 35-year career with the company. His work at Yale is focused on understanding how business leadership is evolving in the era of stakeholder capitalism. He is also Founding Executive Director of the Data & Trust Alliance, a not-for-profit lab which brings together leading businesses to learn, develop and adopt responsible data and AI practices. Members include American Express, Comcast NBCUniversal, CVS Health, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Mastercard, Meta, Nike, Pfizer, Starbucks, UPS and Walmart.

Jon reported to three IBM CEOs during two decades of significant transformation of the technology industry and global business. As IBM Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, he led the company’s global marketing, communications and corporate citizenship organization for a decade. According to Interbrand, IBM became the second most valuable brand in the world during Jon’s tenure as CMO. He was chairman of IBM’s corporate strategy committee and established the company's values and policy committee.

Jon is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; a director of the Ladies Professional Golf Association and chair of its nominating and governance committee; a trustee of the Stevenson School, and a member of the advisory board of Responsible Innovation Labs. He is an inductee of the B2B Hall of Fame and the Marketing Hall of Fame. He was named a Brand Genius by AdWeek. He holds a B.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University.

Jon is co-inventor of a U.S. patent for a nanotechnology and process for atomic-scale semiconductors.