Rite Aid, its stock price dropping and future uncertain, named a female executive with a background in technology to lead the company as it struggles to find its footing in a changing industry and growing competition.

Heyward Donigan, 58, most recently led Sapphire Digital of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, which helps employers shop for healthcare plans, and plan members choose between benefit options. She became one of 33 women leading a Fortune 500 company, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited Equilar. 

The company is in the midst of a turnaround after selling more than 2,000 stores to Walgreen Boots in 2017 and then failing to merge with Albertsons Cos. last year, as pharmacies are increasingly seeking new revenue sources as online shopping of everything from drugs to household item crimps sales.

  • Shares of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid have plummeted 50% this year through yesterday, farther and faster than larger rivals Walgreen Boots and CVS.
  • Her ascent may be perceived as less than a smashing of the glass ceiling and more of a push to the glass cliff — where women are put in precarious leadership positions with high odds of failure.
  • Rite Aid will have to move fast to implement tech changes to speed delivery and cut costs, in the way that Walgreens is utilizing A.I. in stores.
  • Karma Takeaway: Donegan, not an old-school pharma or retail expert, may be able to leverage her tech and health insurance expertise to sell more healthcare plan services to consumers and companies and help Rite Aid set a course for better earnings.