It appears as though Target's data breach has claimed another victim. This morning, the retailer's board announced that Gregg Steinhafel had resigned, effectively immediately, as the company's chairman, chief executive and president.
John Mulligan, current chief financial officer, will replace Mr. Steinhafel as president and CEO on an interim basis while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement. Roxanne Austin, a member of the Target board, has been appointed non-executive chair, also on an interim basis.
Mr. Steinhafel's resignation follows the announcement last week that Target had hired Bob DeRodes, a technology industry veteran, as its new chief information officer. What made Mr. DeRodes' hiring unusual is that Target went outside the organization to fill the position. In the past, Target has been known for promoting from within, but the scope of the data breach was seen as an organizational failure, making an internal hire all but impossible. The retailer continues to look outside the company for people to fill the positions of chief information security officer and chief compliance officer.
While no specific reason was given for Mr. Steinhafel's resignation (he will remain on as a consultant to the company), it seems clear that the company's data breach played a role.
"The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways. From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused than ever on delivering for our guests," wrote Mr. Steinhafel in his letter of resignation. "We have already begun taking a number of steps to further enhance data security, putting the right people, processes and systems in place. With several key milestones behind us. Now is the right time for new leadership at Target."
Would Target benefit more from looking outside the company or hiring from within for its new CEO?