IBM CEOsIBM named its new president and chief executive today, Virginia Rometty, who will also serve on the company’s board of directors.

Sam Palmisano (pictured right with Rometty), the current chief executive, will be stepping down as Virginia, who goes by Ginni, takes the position on Jan. 1, 2012. Rometty currently serves as senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy and joined IBM as a systems engineer in 1981.

“But she is more than a superb operational executive,” said Palmisano in a statement. “She brings to the role of CEO a unique combination of vision, client focus, unrelenting drive, and passion for IBMers and the company’s future. I know the board agrees with me that Ginni is the ideal CEO to lead IBM into its second century.”

Rometty acts as the first female chief executive to run IBM, and as many have noticed, she isn’t alone as a technology leader. Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, recently rose to the top at Hewlett-Packard and announced she is joining hot eCommerce startup Zaarly’s board of directors.

“There is no greater privilege in business than to be asked to lead IBM, especially at this moment,” said Rometty in a statement. She was referring to following in Palmisano’s footsteps, but “this moment” could also refer to the fact that a new wave of leadership has swept through some of the biggest technology companies in the world.