by CIO Staff

CIOs of Kroger and Mellon Financial announce their retirement

Aug 10, 20054 mins

Two companies announced this week that their CIOs would be retiring.

The Kroger Co. said on Monday that its executive vice president and CIO, Michael S. Heschel, plans to conclude his career with Kroger at the end of the fiscal year.  Heschel, 64, has led the grocery store chain’s IT department for the past decade after having joined the Cincinnati-based company in 1991 as group vice president of management information systems.  Three years after coming on board, he was promoted to senior vice president with responsibility for coordinating all IT services, logistics and reengineering projects.  Heschel was appointed EVP and CIO in 1995. 

Christopher T. Hjelm will succeed Heschel as CIO.  Hjelm, 44, left his position as CIO of travel distribution services at Cendant to take the SVP and CIO job at Kroger, which he moves into later this month.  Hjelm has quite a pedigree: He joined Cendant through its acquisition of Orbitz, which had hired him in July 2003 as its CTO.  Prior to Orbitz, he was senior vice president for technology at eBay, and previously spent 14 years with Federal Express as one of its illustrious CIOs.

Robert Tillman, the founding partner at Blackbird Partners who recruited Hjelm for the CTO post at Orbitz, says Hjelm was a “pivotal hire” for Orbitz and that his departure is a loss for Cendant.  “He was important to Orbitz’s success as it went through its IPO and eventual sale.  Cendant responded by giving Chris a much larger role post acquisition, and Chris was one of the few [Orbitz] executives who remained after the acquisition.”  Tillman also says that Hjelm’s move to Kroger isn’t surprising.  “Kroger has more complexity and opportunity for someone of Chris’s skill sets and background.  It has a large-scale platform, lots of supply chain issues, and the continued use of advanced technologies is going to change that business over time.”

I also learned yesterday that Allan Woods will be leaving Mellon Financial on September 1, 2005.  Woods has served as the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company’s vice chairman and CIO since 1999.  He’s worked for Mellon for 35 years.  (For Woods’ bio, click here.)

Succeeding him as CIO is Kevin Shearan, who has been and will continue to be responsible for Mellon’s Technology Delivery department.

I obtained a copy of a touching memo that Marty McGuinn, Mellon’s chairman and CEO, sent out to Mellon employees announcing Woods’ retirement.  In it, McGuinn expressed sadness over Woods’ career at Mellon coming to a close and gratitude for Woods’ accomplishments, leadership and devotion to the company. Because the note was so gracious, I decided to share an excerpt of it here: 

…Allan has distinguished himself at Mellon and again in the industry through his strong leadership of our Corporate Emergency Management Team (CEMT) – both in times of crisis, such as 9/11, as well as in developing and implementing the greatly enhanced disaster recovery and business resumption plans we have in place at Mellon today.  He has been a leader in the area of diversity and inclusion, serving as co-chair of the corporate Diversity Council and as Executive Sponsor for the HEART Affinity Network.  Throughout his career, he has contributed his expertise and time in many non-profit agencies that serve the needs of the community.

Allan is a man of talent, integrity, compassion and deep conviction about doing what is right, as is evidenced by these accomplishments.  For the thousands of Mellon employees who know or have met him, it may come as no surprise that Allan is retiring to begin a new career in serving those in need as he pursues training to become a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician and, ultimately, a certified Paramedic.  I know everyone at Mellon and in the industry joins me in wishing Allan the greatest success in this endeavor and in letting him know how much we respect his decision to help others…

We should all receive such kind and sincere recognition from our bosses when we decide to leave our employers.