Close this search box.
Close this search box.

What CEOs Should Learn from Target’s CEO Resignation

When Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s CEO since 2008, abruptly resigned in May, the company’s recent weak financial performance clearly factored into the change. However, the massive 2013 holiday-season data breach involving 40 million credit cards and 70 million customer records must also have been a factor.

Certain cyber-security warnings appear to have been ignored. In mid-2013, Target installed FireEye, a $1.6 million sophisticated malware (malicious software) detection tool with online monitoring by Target employees in India. On November 30, the tool flagged someone downloading malware onto Target computers (possibly Russian hackers). The Indian employees notified the security team in Minneapolis. Then, apparently nothing happened. No action was taken.

Subsequently, for three weeks, the hackers copied credit card and customer data, temporarily staging it on other Target computers until wholesale data transfers could be masked in normal business transactions. Finally, on December 12, the U.S. Department of Justice contacted Target after receiving reports of fraudulent charges. The rest is history.

Brussels-based SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative through which the financial world conducts global business operations. Consisting of 10,000 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in 212 countries, it exchanges millions of standardized, financial messages every day. At a recent conference, CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt described the dire situation facing businesses all over the world:

  • “It’s a bad, scary world out there and it’s getting worse. The cyber threat is very real and persistent. If you are not paranoid yet, you should become so.”
  • “While cyber criminals are getting ever better organized and funded, we now also have state actors, focusing on not just snooping, but disruption.”
  • “We… require networks that are designed to meet the highest standards in terms of confidentiality, integrity and availability.”
  • “Data protection is core to what we do and cyber-security is part of our DNA, not an afterthought.”
  • “We fully support the EU Cyber Security strategy consisting of: Networks that operate across borders,” standards (such as ISO 27001-2). A robust (European) ecosystem of expertsand providers.”


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.