Target names outsider Brian Cornell CEO, publishes very bland Q&A with him

New CEO Brian Cornell has "omnichannel" on the brain.
New CEO Brian Cornell has "omnichannel" on the brain.

UPDATE: Target's new CEO Brian Cornell may make up to $16 million in his first year on the job, during which ex-CEO Gregg Steinhafel received a $61 million golden parachute while thousands of Target corporate employees will be laid off.

Target, in a manner befitting Minnesota's most recognizable company, has never brought in an outsider as its CEO -- until today.

Gregg Steinhafel's replacement is 55-year-old Brian Cornell, who since 2012 has worked as CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. Prior to that, Cornell held the top spot with Sam's Club and Michaels.

See also:
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigns following tumultuous, controversial six-year tenure

In a post announcing Cornell's appointment, whoever is responsible for the content on Target's website writes, "As Target's new CEO, Cornell's top priorities will be accelerating the company's performance and advancing Target's omnichannel evolution." (We gather "omnichannel evolution" is code for, "He's gotta improve our damn website.")

Roxanne Austin, interim non-executive chair of Target's board, says, "As we seek to aggressively move Target forward and establish the company as a top omnichannel retailer, we focused on identifying an extraordinary leader who could bring vision, focus and a wealth of experience to Target's transformation."

"The Board is confident that Brian's diverse and broad experience in retail and consumer products, as well as his passion for leading high performing teams, will propel Target forward," she continues.

In the post, Cornell directly addresses his "outsider" status.

"I am honored and humbled to join Target as the first CEO hired from outside the company," he says. "I am committed to empowering this talented team to realize its full potential, lead change and strengthen the love guests have for this brand. As we create the Target of tomorrow, I will focus on our current business performance in both the U.S. and Canada and on how we accelerate our omnichannel transformation."

A separate post features a Q&A with the company's new head honcho. On the plus side, the word "omnichannel" is used only a few times, but if you expected the Bullseye View interview to contain controversial takes from Cornell, you're going to be disappointed.

Click to page two for some highlights.

Cornell on what he's into: "My passion is building loyalty and delighting customers... something that Target does extremely well. This brand's promise of Expect More. Pay Less. is as relevant today as it has ever been, and my emphasis will be ensuring we deliver it in all aspects of our product, experience and communications."

Cornell on Target's relatively crummy website: "Advancing Target's omnichannel presence is critically important and it's at the top of my list of priorities... I understand what omnichannel means for Target's future and I am committed to making it happen."

Cornell on his daughter's mixed reaction to the news he's leaving Pepsi: "Her reaction really solidified things for me. She's 28 and has grown up in a household that loves Pepsi. She was so disappointed to hear I was leaving until she asked where I was going. When I shared the answer, she simply said, 'Dad, I love Target!'"

Cornell on what he'll do during his first day of work at Target on August 12: "I will start by stepping back and really listening and learning... [I] look forward to setting priorities for the future and partnering [with the leadership team] to accelerate traffic and sales and build out our omnichannel experience."

Cornell on his love of people-watching: "I always enjoy watching other shoppers while I am inside a Target store."

And, perhaps most importantly of all, Cornell on Minnesota: "As a sports fan, I can't wait to spend more time at Target Field and Target Center [naming rights FTW!]. The restaurant scene is top notch too."

"I am also personally on the board for Polaris Industries, which is based in Minnesota. [He's almost one of us!] It's given me a new appreciation for the winter season. I am already shopping for a new warm coat for next winter."

A word of advice, Brian -- don't donate to gay-unfriendly organizations, try and prevent huge data breaches, and things should at least go smoother than they did under the last guy who had your job.

:::: UPDATE :::: The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that while Target will pay Cornell "just" a $1.3 million base salary, the company has also agreed to pay him $19.3 million over the next four years to make up for income he would've made had he stayed at Pepsi.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.

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