Sharmeelee “Sharms” Bala, whose name translates to “shy” says she is anything but that. She joined the JCPenney family in January, as chief information officer (CIO) overseeing information technology (IT), organization and global technology, operations and supply chain, and corporate functions. “Some days it feels like it’s been two years, and some days it feels like it’s only been 2 months,” Sharms said.
“As the CIO of the company, I’m focused on technology and building a strong foundation for our future,” said Sharms. “If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught all of us in retail, it’s that you can’t depend on anything that has worked in the past. You must be proactive and predictive.”
Sharms brings extensive experience in retail technology, with previous executive and leadership positions at Gap Inc. and Walmart. Despite her impressive career path, it wasn’t always easy.
“Being in technology, there weren’t many women I could look up to or even talk to,” Sharms reflects. “I remember those meetings where I was the only women, and people would look at me like I should be taking notes instead of contributing. I think we’ve come a long way now. It’s okay to speak up, you’ve earned a seat at the table.”
Mentors and family gave Bala the confidence and affirmation she needed to press ahead in her career. The genuine excitement she has for the initiatives she leads and her love of team building have also fueled her career growth.
Currently, JCPenney’s digital footprint is something Sharms says she’s most excited for. “Being a part of a turnaround story for an iconic brand keeps me motivated,” said Sharms, “I’m really excited about JCPenney’s investments for the future. We’re investing in supply chain, next generation point of sale (POS) technology, merchandising and marketing systems and digital systems to name a few. I think knowing what to do is one thing but having the people that can take us there is another. We have both at JCPenney, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that!”
We’re thrilled to have Sharms on the team and can’t wait to share just how she supports JCPenney during in this exciting time. Be on the lookout for future stories and announcements here!