Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation


Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. served as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of IBM Corporation from April 1993 to March 2002 and chairman until his retirement in December 2002.

In January 2003, he assumed the position of chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm located in Washington, D.C. He retired from that position in October 2008 and remains a senior advisor to Carlyle.

Before joining IBM, Mr. Gerstner served as chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco. Prior to that he served as president of the American Express Company and was a director of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

A native of Mineola, New York, Mr. Gerstner received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Dartmouth College in 1963 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has been awarded honorary doctorates from a number of US universities.

Mr. Gerstner is chairman of the board of directors of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; vice chairman of the board of the American Museum of Natural History; and a member of the board of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as well as chairman of the board of MSK’s Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. In past years he served on a number of boards for public companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, the New York Times, American Express, AT&T, and Caterpillar.

A lifetime advocate of the importance of quality K-12 education in America, Mr. Gerstner created The Teaching Commission in 2003 to develop specific policy recommendations to raise the stature, performance, and accountability of teachers in US schools. From 1996 to 2002, he co-chaired Achieve, an organization created by US 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 - Teachers College, Columbia University and the Distinguished Service to Science and 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, Mr. Gerstner was awarded the designation of honorary Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in June 2001.

Mr. Gerstner is the author of Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, the best-selling account of IBM’s transformation; and he is the co-author of the book Reinventing Education:  Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.

In November 2004, MSK announced the establishment of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK), positioning MSK as a premier training ground in cancer biology. Named in recognition of Mr. Gerstner’s commitment to MSK and his understanding of the need to narrow the gap between basic cancer research and clinical applications, GSK offers an innovative program leading to a PhD degree in cancer biology. The first class of six students matriculated in 2006 and currently more than 90 students are doing their thesis work in MSK laboratories. In May 2015, GSK graduated its fourth class of students.