Bridget van Kralingen Leads the Charge in IBM’s Blockchain Innovations


The blockchain landscape, often associated with a male majority which is colloquially referred to as “bitcoin bros,” shows a significant gender disparity, as highlighted by a study revealing that merely 16 percent of the top 50 blockchain organizations are founded or directed by women. However, IBM presents a stark contrast to this trend.

In 2017, IBM was celebrated as a pioneer in the blockchain sector, surpassing competitors like Microsoft and Accenture—a notable milestone indeed. But what is particularly standout is that IBM’s Blockchain initiative is established and governed by a primarily female team, marking a bold deviation from the typically male-dominated cryptocurrency sphere.

Bridget van Kralingen, the Senior Vice President for Global Industries, Platforms, and Blockchain at IBM, spearheads a robust blockchain team of around 1,500 members. Her significant contribution has been pivotal in evolving IBM’s blockchain strategy to suit the needs of enterprise-level applications.

In an extensive interview with The Food Engineering magazine, van Kralingen underscored the benefits of blockchain: “By ensuring blockchain data is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered retroactively, we promote transparency and trust. While updates can be made, they require consensus, maintaining the integrity of the data.”

van Kralingen is resolute in her belief in blockchain’s transformative promise, particularly in addressing the trifecta of supply chain challenges: visibility of data, optimization of processes, and management of demand.

Under van Kralingen’s visionary leadership, the IBM Blockchain group has expanded its horizons beyond just a platform to a comprehensive ecosystem encompassing services and tailored business solutions.

Bridget van Kralingen

Bridget van Kralingen, SVP, IBM Global Business Services.

The Trailblazing Path of IBM’s Blockchain Division Leader

Since her arrival at IBM in 2004, van Kralingen has become a dominant force in the technology industry. She holds a Master of Commerce from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Witwatersrand.

Now, she is at the helm of a newly formed IBM division, created in August 2016, dedicated to developing industry-specific cloud platforms and solutions.

Today, van Kralingen oversees two crucial IBM business areas. In Watson Financial Services, the company’s substantial industry vertical, she is responsible for strategy, solutions, and performance. She is also intimately involved in promoting the adoption of blockchain technologies across different markets, aspiring to establish the blockchain as a foundational tool for secure transactions in the way the internet revolutionized access to information.

In addition, van Kralingen is tasked with cultivating strategic partnerships with leading tech companies including Apple, SAP, Workday, and Salesforce, among others.

Previously as SVP of IBM Global Business Services, van Kralingen led a team of 100,000 consultants and professionals, focusing on the intersection of business acumen and IT innovation for client benefit. In 2011, she was notably responsible for 18% of IBM’s impressive $107 billion in revenue.

Coupling her finance and tech acumen, van Kralingen also champions IBM’s philanthropic endeavors in microfinance technologies, particularly in Latin America and South Africa.

Earning Acclaim as a Leading Woman in FinTech

From 2011, van Kralingen has consistently been recognized among the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune Magazine for five years straight. In 2005, Euromoney magazine included her in its list of the “100 Most Influential People in Finance.” With more than two decades of experience in consulting, Consulting Magazine acknowledged her as one of its “Top 25 Consultants” in 2006.

Parallel to van Kralingen’s achievements, IBM Fellow Donna Dillenberger stands out as another influential figure in the blockchain arena. Dillenberger was instrumental in recognizing blockchain’s potential beyond cryptocurrency, developing a platform aimed at increasing transparency within supply chains, specifically with regard to food safety.

Today, IBM’s blockchain efforts reflect the integration of the platform with comprehensive services and business solutions.

IBM has a longstanding commitment to fostering a diverse leadership team, as evidenced by their current CEO Ginni Rometty and the company’s ongoing promotion of inclusivity.

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