With CEO Gregg Steinhafel essentially falling on his sword and leaving Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) over a massive data breach that saw thousands of customers have their personal data exposed to hackers, tech and finance experts and journalists are beginning to question whether or not Target might look to the tech industry to find a replacement for him.
To blame Mr. Steinhafel for the breach would be silly, data security is hardly in his portfolio. But at the end of the day he was on watch and, well, there was Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT)’s massive investment in Canada that has yet to do anything buy lose money for the retailer.
While Target’s interim CEO continues to tell consumers that there information is secure, might it not be better to further reenforce this message by finding a new CEO from the tech industry as executive search firm Korn Ferry begins its search?
Target: Media makes a short list
Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) has NEVER appointed a CEO from outside the company and it still may not but there is growing speculation among industry insiders and executive search professionals that it might be different this time.
During the Microsoft CEO search, the media essentially short-listed the search ultimately missing the in-house replacement. The same may occur here with the media bandying about three names: Kevin Turner, COO of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT); Karen Katz, CEO of Neiman Marcus, and Alan Mulally, soon to be ex-CEO of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) come July.
“Kevin Turner, the (chief operating officer) of Microsoft would be an interesting choice for Target,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research.
While one might not think the two jobs cross-over very well, that may not be the case. Turner got his start in retail ultimately rising to the position of chief information officer and CEO of Target competitor Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club is, of course, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT).
Katz has done a great job at Neiman Marcus though it could be argued that their is a big difference between the two stores clientele just as there is between a company that does sales around $5 billion compared to Target’s $70 billion business.
Mulally would bring many things to the table, but not retail experience. His successful run at Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is unarguable and he “set the right tone” at the automaker according to John Wood, vice chairman at executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles.
“He is responsible for the current culture at Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) — one of transparency,” said Wood. And that is something that Target needs following the breach of data that has customers wondering whether or not it’s safe to return to Target.
None of the above names has issued any statement about the opening and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) is certainly keeping its options open.
“We are looking at all industries. Innovation is incredibly important to Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT),” said Dustee Jenkins, a Target spokesman.