Tesco CIO Mike McNamara quits to join US retailer Target

Tesco CIO Mike McNamara is leaving the UK supermarket giant and moving to the US to become CIO at retailer Target

Tesco CIO Mike McNamara is leaving the UK supermarket giant and moving to the US to become CIO at retailer Target - the company that suffered one of the largest corporate data breaches in history. 

McNamara (pictured) has worked at Tesco since 1999, taking over as CIO in March 2011 when his predecessor Philip Clarke stepped up to become the company’s chief executive. He has led Tesco’s aggressive move into online retailing, investing over £150m since 2012 in a series of e-commerce and mobile innovations.

However, following its well-publicised financial difficulties, Tesco announced in August 2014 that it was cutting back its IT spending to reduce costs. Several senior executives have left the retailer in recent months, and Clarke was replaced as CEO last year by Dave Lewis, as the firm’s growth stuttered. It has recently sold its Tesco broadband and Blinkbox video streaming service to TalkTalk for just £5m, and has put Dunnhumby, its big data analytics arm, up for sale.

Tesco has decided not to replace McNamara as CIO, and instead is looking for a chief technology officer. "Mike McNamara has been a tremendous asset to our business and we are sad to see him go. Given this change we take the opportunity to build on Mike’s legacy by taking the next step in technology and recruit a chief technology officer,” said Tesco CEO Dave Lewis.

McNamara’s new employer has also been in the news recently for the wrong reasons. Target suffered a massive data breach in late 2013, affecting about 40 million credit and debit cards of its customers, with the personal information of 70 million people thought to have been compromised.

Target’s then-CIO Beth Jacob resigned two-and-a-half months after the breach. She was replaced by Bob DeRodes, formerly a senior IT advisor for the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Secretary of Defense, and the US Department of Justice. DeRodes is now retiring after helping to overhaul the company’s IT security.

“Technology is critical for Target’s future success. So finding the right leader for this role was one of my absolute top priorities,” said Target chairman and CEO, Brian Cornell.

“Mike McNamara has been a driving force for technology innovation throughout his career. He’s got a stellar track record, and I’m excited to see how he’ll help our team continue to push new innovations that enhance the shopping experience for Target guests, both online and in stores.”

Target said that in his new role, McNamara will have oversight of the technology team and operations, including information security, and will help shape strategy as a member of the firm’s leadership team, reporting to Cornell.

“Tesco is a world class brand and I’m grateful for the time I spent there. Looking ahead, I’m thrilled to join Target at a time when Brian and the leadership team are intensifying their investment in technology and prioritising its role in Target’s future success,” McNamara said.

“I have long admired Target as a retailer and its legacy of putting customers first. To be part of an organisation like Target and help shape the future of its technology and omni-channel strategy was a dream opportunity for me.”

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