by Meridith Levinson

RehabCare’s Appointment of Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm to Its Board of Directors

Aug 16, 20072 mins

RehabCare, a $614 million provider of physical rehabilitation services, elected Kroger CIO Christopher Hjelm to its board of directors on July 31. Hjelm, 46, sits on the St. Louis, Mo.-based company’s audit committee.

Jay Shreiner, RehabCare’s CFO, says that his company realized it needed someone with IT experience as it interviewed different candidates for the open seat on its board because none of its existing board members had CIO experience.

“IT for us is a strategic enabler,” says Shreiner. “We have consistently invested a significant amount [of money] in our IT infrastructure. We are in the process of refreshing what we call our application roadmap, which covers the next three to five years. We know that we will continue to invest heavily in IT and felt that someone who has the breadth and experience that Chris has would be an excellent addition to our board and to help us execute this next phase of the roadmap.”

Experience is one thing Hjelm has in spades: Prior to joining Kroger as its CIO in August 2005, Hjelm was CIO of travel distribution services at Cendant and before that he was CTO of Orbitz.

Shreiner says his company will leverage Hjelm’s expertise by bouncing ideas off of him and soliciting him for advice. Hjelm will not play a hands on role. “We aren’t bashful when it comes to reaching out to our board,” says the CFO. “We look at them as part of our expanded team.”

Hjelm has already weighed in on RehabCare’s application roadmap, according to Schreiner. Hjelm will also be available to RehabCare’s CIO, Dick Escue, whom Shreiner says is a seasoned CIO in his own right. (A PR person for Kroger did not return two phone calls from requesting an interview with Hjelm.)

RehabCare, which provides services in 42 states, also plans to tap into Hjelm’s experience with large companies and distributed work environments, says Shreiner.

“In the short amount of time we’ve worked with Chris, he has been a tremendous asset. He has great ideas,” says the CFO. “We’re just delighted with this appointment, and we’ve already gotten significant value from it and expect that it will continue.”