by Meridith Levinson

CIO Turnover at RadioShack

May 05, 2006 3 mins

Last week, GetConnected, a provider of transaction processing platforms, appointed Evelyn Follit to its board of directors. Follit is the former senior vice president, CIO and chief organizational enabling services officer at RadioShack. She retired from RadioShack at the end of February 2005, having joined the Fort Worth, Texas-based company in 1997 as its vice president of human capital.

As you may know, RadioShack has experienced its share of ups and downs lately. 2005 was a particularly tumultuous year for the consumer electronics retailer, what with the scandal over its previous CEO’s college degree and its disappointing earnings. The company is now firmly in turnaround mode. Consequently, RadioShack has seen an unusual amount of CIO turnover, starting with Follit’s prescient retirement in February 2005, the resignation of her successor, Don Vietti, a year later, and most recently, RadioShack’s appointment in March 2006 of a new SVP of IT, Cara Kinzey.

The CIO turnover at RadioShack exemplifies the impact corporate restructurings and high-level executive management changes can have on IT leadership. 

The month before Follit retired, RadioShack’s board of directors appointed its then COO, David Edmondson, to serve as CEO of the company upon its then CEO, Len Roberts’, retirement in May 2005.  Although Edmondson didn’t officially become CEO until May, he began assembling his new management team, which was going to look different from his predecessor’s. One of the changes Edmondson made to the make-up of RadioShack’s executive leadership was in to whom the CIO would report. Follit had reported to CEO Roberts during her tenure, but her successor, Don Vietti, wasn’t so fortunate.  Under Edmondson’s management, Vietti reported to RadioShack’s senior vice president of supply chain, Mike Kowal. Kowal in turn reported to Edmondson while Edmondson was COO and CEO.

When Kowal resigned from RadioShack in November 2005, Vietti began reporting to Jim Fredericks, who at the time was the VP of HR (he’s now EVP of administration.) Vietti left RadioShack in February to join Carlson Restaurants Worldwide as its new VP of IT and CIO. (Deborah Lipscomb most recently held the CIO post at Carlson Restaurants; she left the TGIFriday’s operator in September 2005 for the SVP and CIO post at ClubCorp.)

Also in February, RadioShack appointed a new CEO, Claire Babrowski, to take over from Edmondson, who came under fire in 2005 for lying about his college degree on his resume. Babrowski made further changes to RadioShack’s senior management team and the reporting relationships among top executives. To focus more closely on improving RadioShack’s performance, Babrowski shed some direct reports, which cemented the fact that IT would not report to the CEO under her regime.

In March 2006, RadioShack hired Cara Kinzey as its new senior vice president in charge of IT. Kinzey, who was recruited from Wal-Mart, reports to EVP of Admin Fredericks.