We are a publication that digs into the background of today’s leading professionals. We like to highlight the men and women who are making signficant contributions to the business world. Today, we feature Virginia “Ginni” Marie Rometty.

Ginni Rometty was born on July 29, 1957, in Chicago, Illinois, as Virginia Marie Nicosia. She grew up outside of Chicago as the eldest of four children in an Italian-American family. Her parents divorced and her father left when she was only fifteen years old. Her mother took on multiple jobs to support the family, which left Rometty to look after the household. These difficult beginnings taught her valuable life skills and leadership qualities.

She then began her studies at Northwestern University in Illinois in 1975 on a General Motor’s scholarship. While there, she completed an internship between her junior and senior years. Rometty was also a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and eventually served as its president. Four years later, she graduated with distinction from the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. The end result was a bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering. She also has received honorary doctoral degrees including one from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and another from Northwestern University. Additionally, she received an honorary degree from North Carolina State University.

Today she is an American business executive, serving as the executive chairman of IBM. Before becoming its president and CEO in January 2012, she was a systems engineer at IBM and later headed its global sales, marketing, and strategy. While general manager of IBM’s global services division, she helped negotiate the company’s purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers IT consulting business. She became known for her work integrating the two companies. As Chief Executive Officer, she refocused IBM on analytics, cloud computing, and cognitive computing systems.

Ginni Rometty’s tenure as IBM’s CEO was marked by noteworthy awards, including by Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business”, Forbes‘ America’s Top 50 Women In Tech, Time’s 20 Most Important People in Tech, and Bloomberg’s 50 Most Influential People in the World. But her leadership hasn’t been without its share of criticism. Critics often point out the executive compensation bonuses, layoffs, outsourcing, and years of revenue decline.