Five Questions with Target’s New CIO Mike McNamara

July 6, 2015 - Article reads in
New Target CIO Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara is no stranger to making digital magic. After 15 years of leadership at the UK-based Tesco PLC supermarket chain, he’s become a respected expert on the technology scene, using the latest digital innovations to take the retail shopping experience to new levels.

Now, Mike’s up against his biggest challenge yet. As Target’s new Chief Information Officer, he’ll help lead the company’s digital transformation, serving up new ways to wow guests with exciting innovations in our stores and online. Just a few weeks in, Mike sat down to tell us more about himself, his thoughts on Target, and what he hopes to help his teams accomplish in the coming months. 

What made you decide to take on this new role?

I’ve always admired Target and its warm, welcoming brand and culture. The products Target sells are so important and central to people’s lives, and the team members are strong brand ambassadors. More broadly speaking, it’s a brilliant time to be in retail technology. Now more than ever, technology plays a major role in inspiring guest loyalty, so it’s exciting to be working at the front of the business. 

What do you hope to accomplish with your new teams?

Technology is key to three core functions: ensuring Target provides excellent service to guests, creating new ways to enhance the shopping experience, and helping things run smoothly behind the scenes. Staying plugged into those areas will help us prioritize our work and stay focused on the things that really need to shine. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

My role as leader is to support, not direct. It’s the engineers and others on the front line who create the true value. My job is to get them the resources they need, remove the roadblocks and give them freedom to operate within a framework. You might say my style is to listen and delegate. I can be decisive, but I prefer to help my team make the decisions and cast a vote. Put it this way: I have two ears and one mouth, and I plan to use them proportionally [taking a page from author Susan Cain].

 Apple or Android?

I’m a long-time Android user, but my wife and kids are all Apple enthusiasts. I finally gave in and got an iPhone and am giving it a try.

Moving to Minnesota has got to be a big change. What are you most looking forward to?

My family and I have been frequent visitors to the U.S., so we already love it here. My kids are actually still in London at the moment; my two daughters are at university. My son is finishing up high school—he’s especially excited to come live with us in the states. On a personal note, I love the outdoors, so it’s wonderful to go for a run along the Mississippi River. I’m a red wine enthusiast, so I’m excited to try a broad new range of American-made wines. And I’m a big fan of English Premier League football (I support Arsenal), so with the time difference, I can now watch the games in bed on Sunday mornings.

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