UPDATE: May 6, 2020: J.C. Penney tapped Melissa Pint, SVP of Information Technology, to lead the company's technology operations.
Pint, who became SVP in 2018, will lead "the overall vision, strategic direction, and tactical execution of our information technology systems and teams," the company said in an email to CIO Dive.
- Therace Risch, J.C. Penney's EVP CIO, will depart the company effective Friday, according to a 10-K filing. The executive has accepted the role of SVP and chief information and technology officer at Columbus, Ohio-based energy company American Electric Power.
- The executive will start her new role Monday, where she will report directly to CEO Nicholas Akins. The company's Information Technology, Innovation & Technology, Telecommunications, and Charge (a digital innovation hub) teams will report directly to Risch.
- Risch, who joined J.C. Penney in 2015, comes to American Electric Power with decades of experience leading IT teams, including a 10-year stint at Target as the retailer's VP of IT delivery services. J.C. Penney commended Risch for her "her valuable contributions in developing the Plan for Renewal and building a strong technology organization," the company said in a statement to CIO Dive.
Risch's move from J.C. Penney comes just over a month after the company announced a pandemic-driven round of furloughs.
With much of the country's non-essential businesses shut down, the company furloughed the majority of store associates. A "significant portion" of corporate staffers was also furloughed in connection with the lockdown.
Analysts predicted a dire future for the retailer even before the effect of the pandemic hit, reports CIO Dive's sister publication Retail Dive. In April, the retailer was reportedly in advanced talks with backers to secure a loan that could fund it through a bankruptcy.
IT will prove critical for retailers attempting to weather the economic contraction; connecting digitally with shoppers provides relief amid economic contraction.
As for who will lead J.C. Penney's digital strategy in the short term, no immediate replacement for Risch was announced. In December, the company added Karl Walsh as chief digital officer, a role previously filled by Risch in addition to CIO duties.