Jon Iwata, SVP, marketing and communications, IBM: Power List 2016

2016 rank: 12

The reason the Arthur W. Page Society is named after a person is to remind us that every CCO should have as much influence on a company’s strategic choices as Arthur did at AT&T. No one exemplifies that better today than Jon Iwata.

When he was a young writer at IBM’s Think magazine in the early ’90s, Jon impressed vice chairman Jack Kuehler with his penetrating analysis of IBM’s technology. That led to an assignment in corporate media relations and a quick path to CCO and CMO.

Jon worked with CEOs Sam Palmisano and Ginni Rometty to create Smarter Planet and then Cognitive Business — not marketing campaigns, but strategies to focus the company on its core mission. Around that, he’s led or influenced IBM’s cultural and strategic transformations.

But who is Jon? A smart guy, sure. But here’s the essence: Driven by limitless curiosity and a desire to create meaningful change, he thinks about big issues and — seemingly effortlessly — distills them to their essence so mere mortals can easily grasp, and be inspired by, the vision. His gentle, modest, and inclusive manner helps those around him feel like co-creators. That’s true leadership.

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