Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
Retired Chairman and CEO, International Business Machines
Louis V. Gerstner Jr. served as chairman of IBM from April 1993 until he retired in December 2002. He was IBM’s chief executive officer from 1993 until March 2002.
In January 2003, he became chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global private-equity firm located in Washington. He retired from that position in October 2008 and remains a senior advisor to Carlyle.
Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Gerstner served for four years as chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco. This was preceded by an 11-year career at American Express, where he was president of the parent company and chairman and CEO of its largest subsidiary, American Express Travel Related Services Company. Previously, Gerstner had been a director of the management-consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which he joined in 1965.
A native of Mineola, N.Y., Gerstner received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Dartmouth College in 1963, followed by an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from a number of U.S. universities.
Gerstner is a director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, vice-chairman of the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and vice-chairman of the board of the American Museum of Natural History. He previously served on the boards of Bristol-Myers Squibb, the New York Times Co., American Express, AT&T, Caterpillar, Jewel Companies, Melville, RJR Nabisco Holdings, and the DaimlerChrysler Chairman’s Council.
A lifetime advocate of the importance of quality education, Gerstner created the Teaching Commission in 2003 to develop specific policy recommendations to deal with the teaching crisis America faces. From 1996 to 2002 he co-chaired Achieve, an organization created by U.S. governors and business leaders to drive high academic standards for public schools in the United States. At IBM he established Reinventing Education as a strategic partnership with 21 states and school districts that utilize IBM technology and technical assistance to eliminate key barriers to school reform and improve student performance.
He has received numerous awards for his work in education, among them the Cleveland E. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Distinguished Service to Science & Education Award from the American Museum of Natural History. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of public education, as well as his business accomplishments, Gerstner was awarded the designation of honorary Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in June 2001.
Gerstner is the author of Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, the best-selling account of IBM’s transformation, and he is co-author of the book, Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.