IBM just added a new director to its board, Hutham S. Olayan, a senior executive at Saudi Arabian conglomerate The Olayan Group. This addition marks IBM’s fourth female board member, adding to CEO Ginni Rometty, Columbia University professor Joan Spero, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson.
Olayan, who also serves on the board of investment bank Morgan Stanley, heads up operations and investments for North, Central and South America for The Olayan Group. The Saudi Arabian company comprises more than 40 companies in the areas of oil, steel, and fast food. According to a recent Bloomberg report, The Olayan Group is the leading franchise holder for Burger King in the Middle East and North Africa. The conglomerate is also the local Middle East manufacturer of Kleenex, Coca-Cola and Huggies diapers.
In a statement, Rometty said Olayan’s expertise in international markets would be particularly helpful for the computing company.
Olayan’s addition to IBM’s (IBM) board is good news, considering the lack of female presence on public company boards. According to recent reports, only 19.2% of the board seats of S&P 500 companies are held by women.
But there are efforts to change this. Earlier this year, Facebook COO and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen teamed up to send promising female and minority leaders to “corporate board bootcamps,” in an effort to encourage more diversity on boards.
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