JCPenney has officially chosen its next CEO: Marvin Ellison, current Home Depot executive. While this choice may be a surprise to some, industry insiders have had positive things to say about the decision.
"Marvin is an inspired, if unconventional, choice…with deep skills in customer service and customer relationship management," Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, told Forbes.
Ellison faces no easy task: The retail giant has struggled to attain profitability in recent years, and while it is no longer hemorrhaging customers at the rate it was under now-ousted CEO Ron Johnson, it has yet to regain the dominant market position it once enjoyed.
Another group that has already given Ellison its vote of confidence is investors. In early trading following the release of the news, shares of the store spiked, indicating general confidence in his ability to right the listing ship and return JCPenney to profitability. This stance is supported by the strong work Ellison did at Home Depot, where he ran a fleet twice the size of JCPenney's far more profitably. While he has little direct experience in the apparel industry, his willingness to innovate in terms of customer service bodes well for his ability to make the pivot. At Home Depot, he introduced a program whereby customers could buy online and pickup in store, a clear indicator of his knowledge of shifting retail trends.
Ellison serves as a clear example of the caliber of nontraditional candidate that can be found via global executive search. With the assistance of an industry-savvy recruitment consultant, any company can find the sort of talented leadership that will guide it into profitability.