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Target Q&A with its new chief strategy and innovation officer


On Sept. 11, Minsok Pak will step into the role of executive VP, chief strategy and innovation officer, for Target Corp.

In the Q&A below, posted on Target's website, the retailer spoke with Pak about his past work with consumer brands, and the challenges facing retail today.

You’ve worked for consumer brands, including The LEGO Group and LG Electronics, and have two decades of experience as a consultant with McKinsey & Company. How did you get your start in your career and what keeps you going?

I thought I was going to be a PhD in Economics but during my senior year I realized I didn’t have patience for academia. I wanted to be doing stuff – having impact – not just focusing on research. I was fortunate enough to join McKinsey & Company fresh out of college and quickly learned a lot about different business industries and functions. It was fast-paced, intellectually stimulating, and I got to work with some terrific people. Before I knew it, I’d spent nearly two decades there.

I love tackling new challenges and working with great teams to drive growth in a business. I get energy from staying curious and looking for ways to create impact. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of a number of significant transformations. It‘s the idea of being in an environment where there's a lot of change happening and the opportunity to make a difference that excites me.

I‘ve focused on consumer and retail industries because they‘re tangible and real – we’re all consumers and we all shop. And retail today is one of the most dynamic industries, with seismic changes in both competitive and consumer behavior.

What do you think is the biggest challenge retailers are facing today?

Retailing used to be about brick and mortar – having convenient locations, the right products on shelves, and the best prices. That’s no longer the case. With digitization, consumers have a lot more options and access. They have higher expectations when it comes to experiences, personalization, and engagement. In order to succeed, retailers must fundamentally change their business models.

You’re a triathlete. What has that taught you about business?

Training for and competing in long-distance triathlons forces you to have a long-term goal, make difficult trade-offs, execute with discipline, and adapt when variables change. I‘ve also learned not to put boundaries on myself. I believe we are often our worst enemy because we self-impose limits on what we can accomplish. And these lessons apply in my professional life, too.

Your first day is coming up. What’s your top priority once you’re settled in?

Buying a winter coat! In all seriousness, my top priority will be to get up-to-speed quickly. Target is a nearly $70B retailer with 1,800 locations competing in an extremely dynamic retail environment. My goal will be to learn about all of the terrific things already underway and to work with the team to continue building for the future.

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