- Nike CIO Jim Scholefield is leaving the athletic retailer and joining pharmaceutical company Merck as chief information and digital officer at the end of October, according to a company announcement earlier this week.
- Scholefield has served as global CIO at Nike for almost three and a half years. Previously he worked as CTO at Coca-Cola for almost five years and SVP of worldwide technology at Northern Trust for just over three years.
- Merck's 24-year Global CIO Clark Colestani retired from the company in April, after which CTO Rich Branton served as interim CIO, according to the Wall Street Journal. With new leadership coming in, Branton will report to Scholefield.
While retail and pharma have a lot in common, Scholefield will be moving into a company where supply chain discipline is tighter: Running out of stock of sneakers is a different game than running out of critical cholesterol or flu-combatting drugs.
But coming off of almost nine years at two of the largest brands in retail and food, Scholefield is no stranger to global supply chain operations and the development of new digital capabilities. Earlier this year, for example, Nike made key acquisitions in computer vision and data analytics companies on its path to inject more technologies and innovation into the customer experience.
Merck, along with a handful of other pharma leaders, is working to implement new processes for continuous manufacturing. Many pharma companies still rely on batch production, and the move to continuous manufacturing will demand a lot of attention to regulatory alignment, which has served as one of the biggest barriers to adopting the emerging technology.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier was recently confirmed to stay on at the company at least through 2019, providing continuity in top leadership during Scholefield's transition to the company. Frazier has headed the company since 2011, including through the turbulence of the 2017 Nyetya cyberattack, which cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.