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CNN names Target’s Cornell CEO of the Year

Brian Cornell
Brian Cornell

Brian Cornell of Target beat out CEOs from Chipotle and Advanced Micro Devices for a top honor from CNN Business.

In naming Cornell CEO of the Year, the cable news giant cited Target's quarterly performance consistently outperforming Wall Street expectations during 2019 so far, with Q4 earnings per share expected to increase 11% year-over-year. Target’s stock value has almost doubled during the course of 2019, earning it a spot as a top performer in the S&P 500.

In addition, CNN credited Cornell with playing a leading role in Target balancing brick-and-mortar and digital (including mobile) commerce, and its successful competition with Walmart and Amazon.

The other two finalists for the honor were Brian Nicol, CEO of fast-casual dining chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Lisa Su, CEO of semiconductor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). CNN named Nicol CEO of the Year in 2018.

In an interview published on, Cornell said the seeds of Target’s current success were planted at its financial community meeting in February 2017.

“We laid out a strategy and significant investment that put stores at the center of everything we do for our guests - remodeling and opening stores to create a convenient, inspiring in-store experience while also making our stores fulfillment hubs for e-commerce,” Cornell said. “The 'retail-is-dead' narrative was in full effect, and we were making one of the largest investments in our history. But we knew that, over time, we would demonstrate we were doing the right thing for our guests, our business and our team.”

In addition to focusing heavily on an omnichannel customer experience, Cornell also credited efforts such as opening new stores in urban areas and on college campuses, a strong and varied product assortment, and heavy investment in cybersecurity as helping it to achieve significant success.

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