Sam Palmisano, vice chairman, Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity
Sam Palmisano, vice chairman, Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity

Sam Palmisano, vice chairman, Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity

Former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano has had what can only be described as a pretty busy year.

Palmisano, along with 11 other technology and cybersecurity luminaries, was appointed in February to President Obama's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and tasked with no less than implementing the Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) and taking the bold steps needed to not only keep America safe from its enemies, but also remain competitive in the global digital economy.

“Given the complexity and seriousness of the issue, the president is also asking some of our nation's top strategic, business and technical thinkers from outside of government to study and report on what more we can do to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security,” as is stated in the CNAP.

Palmisano, as vice chairman of the commission, helped guide the group through seven regional meetings during which they met and conducted panels with a wide-ranging group of interested parties using his business background to focus the group's efforts on the importance of creating a unified cybersecurity plan.

“From a business perspective, the internet now touches everyone in their personal lives," Palmisano said during the first commission meeting at the U.S. Department of Commerce. "We are currently only at the early stages of this digital technological revolution and it's only going to expand. Therefore, everyone's focus on technology adoption rates is likely bound to the security and privacy of the internet; therefore, policies that can protect both companies and individuals need to be developed. It is not only a current problem; it will be more prevalent in the future.”

The commission was scheduled to release its final report on December 1.

Palmisano was well-suited to be named to the commission. He spent 39 years with IBM ending up as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Big Blue from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2011. He then served as chairman of the board from January 2011 through September 2012 and remained tied to the company as a senior adviser until his retirement on December 1, 2012.

During his tenure at IBM, Palmisano made some of the toughest decisions in the company's history, including excising the company's famous PC division by selling it to the Chinese firm Lenovo. This was the driving force behind a series of acquisitions that helped drive IBM's stock price close to its all-time high. In addition, he changed the company from being best known as a maker of massive mainframes and PCs to a services-oriented firm developing business software.

Palmisano is also active in the Center for Global Enterprise, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group that he founded, which is dedicated to the study of global management best practices.

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