Front and center new CEO

July 31, 2014

Front and center new CEO

Target announced its new CEO today. Brian Cornell is front and center on the Target blog and as you’d expect, wearing a red tie. He looks eager to get started. He is one of several features in the Target blog carousel so it is not reserved just for him. Smart choice since Target’s customers (guests) are so important. An interview with Cornell falls right below his bright-eyed picture. He gets asked eight questions and of course the obligatory one about how moving to Minnesota from New York where he works at PepsiCo.  It is pretty amazing that he is the first outsider CEO at Target which indicates that the company has been very homegrown and probably insular. I keep a list of questions that new CEOs get asked so I will add this to my list:

  • You are the first CEO who has been hired from outside of Target. What are the benefits of coming in from the outside? What will be some of the challenges?
  • You are arriving at Target with a strong background in grocery. Is that your passion and will that be an emphasis as you begin your new role?
  • It’s been widely reported that Target needs to transform digitally. Do you think you bring the right background and experience to truly advance Target’s omnichannel efforts?
  • Why did you decide to take on this role at Target? Are you a fan of the brand?
  • As someone who has worked in retail, what’s been your impression of Target?
  • What will your first day on the job look like (i.e. what will be your top priorities)?
  • What’s your favorite thing about shopping at Target?
  • What are you looking forward to most about living in Minnesota? Least?

In one of his answers, he refers to Target as an academy company which is a term I had not heard before. According to Wikipedia, an academy company is “a term used for an organization  that is well known as a place to start a professional career and provides leaders to other companies. Often academy companies hire the majority of their staff from recent college and university graduates, and provide extensive training. Academy companies are frequently targeted by executive search firms as sources of talent. Often academy companies have “up or out” policies that facilitate organizational growth and development.” Examples given by Wikipedia of academy companies are: PepsiCo, P&G, General Mills, Kraft, Goldman Sachs, GE, JPMorgan Chase, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting, HP, Unilever and Nielsen.

I wish him well. 




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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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