Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) has a new chief information officer. On Thursday (May 9), the chain said Jeff Balagna will become executive VP and CIO. Balagna arrives at Sears from drug maker Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), where he was CIO for just over a year. Before that, he was CIO at Carlson Cos., the corporate parent of restaurant chain T.G.I. Fridays and Radisson Hotels, and later CEO of Carlson Marketing, a spinoff that specialized in loyalty programs.
What's not clear is what has become of Keith Sherwell, Sears' highly visible (and now former) CIO. Sherwell spent the last two-and-a-half years launching a series of IT initiatives at Sears, which included building up the retailer's "big data" expertise and then spinning off that group as a new company called Metascale, which is in the business of helping other businesses master big data—as long as they aren't Sears competitors.
As recently as two weeks ago, Sherwell was still being quoted in The Wall Street Journal, and his LinkedIn profile still identifies him as Sears CIO. Sears didn't mention him in the news release announcing Balagna's hiring.
Then again, this isn't the first time Sears has made a CIO disappear very quietly. Sherwell became the retailer's temporary CIO in November 2010 after Timothy Kasbe—another high-profile Sears CIO—vanished from the company's C-level roster. At the time, some vendors who had appointments with Kasbe were told by his office that the meetings had to be canceled because he was no longer with the company, and were told to keep that information quiet.
- See this Sears news release
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