In the next few months, first impressions were confirmed: Castagna was a very forceful leader (too forceful for some, who began referring to her at watercoolers as "Can'tstandya"). By her forthright announcements and actions, it also became apparent to all that Oesterreicher's administration had been flatly inept. It was fascinating and embarrassing because there was no attempt to cover this up. On the contrary, she spoke to the point publicly . Again and again in simultaneous comments to the press and Penney associates , she referred to the company's "outmoded management" and the pressing need to "change our culture." ( What?! )
Castagna began communicating to the ranks as no one in modern times had ever done before. With banners, posters , companywide newsletters, and "Straight Talk" broadcasts, she laid out her plans and appealed for extra effort. It was time to "ACT!" ("Accelerating Change Together"). And it was hokey, yes. But it all seemed fresh and vital because it was so new to the modern JCPenney. In another first, she backed up her appeals with a personal pledge to work harder than anyone , to get results, and to never be less than 100 percent up front.
Yes, the hiring of Vanessa Castagna meant that the board of directors had finally done something right.