Beth Jacob - Target
Executive Vice President, Target Technology Services
Chief Information Officer, Target Corporation
Beth is responsible for the IT operations for the company’s stores, distribution centers, headquarters locations and international facilities.
Every week, Target serves nearly 30 million guests (our term for customers), and Beth’s team supports nearly every area of our business to help create a great guest experience. She leads a team of more than 8,000 technology professionals in a global operation, and works with senior leaders to help achieve Target's goals.
Beth earned a bachelor of science degree in retail merchandising from the University o fMinnesotain 1984 and an MBA from the same institution in 1989.
Why do you believe STEM education and workforce are important to our nation?
The vast and varied fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) open so many doors. They offer students strong earning potential in challenging careers and provide pipelines for innovation that ensure our country’s long-term relevance in a global economy.
Over the past decade,U.S.job growth in the STEM sector has increased three times more than other fields, and I believe that there’s incredibly strong potential for STEM workers to make future contributions to our economic growth.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
I believe that leaders have a responsibility to understand the potential of STEM and promote its positive impact. STEM plays an increasingly critical role across organizations – from traditionally STEM-focused areas like technology, finance and analytics, to areas like supply chain, marketing and merchandising.
At Target, we believe that a strong foundation in technology helps us achieve our near-term goals and supports our long-term innovation and growth initiatives.
When we deepen awareness of the ways in which technology enables our business strategies, such as our commitment to more robust multichannel capabilities, we benefit by attracting top talent to our company that will help drive the innovation that is critical to our long-term success.
We have a vested interest in ensuring that there is a strong pipeline of talented people who are attracted to these rewarding – and demanding – fields. When we mentor and inspire young people through schools and community organizations that support STEM education, we’re helping to create future leaders for our own organizations.
What can we do to ensure more women leaders in STEM?
Certainly, women are traditionally underrepresented in STEM-related roles in business and academia. We have the opportunity – and the obligation – to do more to teach girls and young women about career possibilities in STEM and set the expectation that women can be highly successful in these fields. When we share success stories of women excelling in STEM careers, and act as mentors and role models for students, we’re creating potential for girls and young women who previously might not have considered STEM fields.
Companies need to ensure that interviewing, hiring and development practices are free from gender biases. While this may sound simple, it requires a deeply-rooted commitment to diversity throughout an organization. At Target, embracing diversity means recognizing that each of us is unique and that we benefit from the diverse experiences and viewpoints we bring to the workplace. A talented and diverse team builds a culture of inclusivity and acceptance that fuels creativity and innovation.
Mentorship plays a critical role in creating a supportive environment. Target offers tools and programs that connect team members with experienced mentors, and we promote a number of internal professional networks, including one specifically for women in technology.
Our Target Women in Science and Technology (TWIST) network has been in place since 2008, and has more than 600 members in ourMinneapolis,Minn.andBangalore,Indiaoffices. TWIST provides opportunities for collaboration, networking, and developing skills like public speaking, while fostering an inclusive environment for women in STEM. TWIST also partners with local technology companies to provide in-depth learning events on emerging technology trends to keep our team connected to industry leaders.
While TWIST focuses on career development by engaging and inspiring women who work at Target, it also reaches STEM students. The TWIST team volunteers in classrooms at local schools, sharing the exciting work going on at Target to inspire kids – and girls in particular – with real-life examples/applications of STEM.
In addition, we also have a strategic partnership with the Information Technology Service Management organization, a non-profit focused on advancing the IT profession at all levels. This partnership helps us prepare our team members for senior-level responsibility by pairing high-performing team members with IT executive mentors.
While the commitment of an organization can take many forms, and needs to scale to the size of the organization, I believe organizations of every size can take active steps to create an attractive and supportive environment for women in STEM careers.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
To be successful, we had to shift the mindset – within Target Technology Services (TTS) and across the entire Target organization – from supporting our internal business partners to being a strategic business driver.
The TTS Transformation project felt risky and challenging, but it was ultimately very rewarding. We created new teams focused on strategy, architecture, and global resource planning – reorganized to partner more closely across all business areas – and established multi-year roadmaps to drive results. We also established Centers of Excellence that extend to our global team. These CoEs have significantly increased our discipline in execution and efficiency.
As a result of the TTS Transformation, we’ve been able to deploy complex, strategic, and fast-moving initiatives more quickly than ever before, and to make significant progress in our goal to become the Best in Retail IT.
Admittedly, it’s challenging to stay focused on this long-term technology vision while delivering on the literally hundreds of daily priorities. But I am happy to say that we are now operating with a more strategic mindset than ever before, as a result of the outstanding work and commitment of our talented team. I’m proud of everyone associated with TTS and our Transformation.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
Target is always focused on what’s new and what’s next to ensure that we deliver a superior guest experience and advance our reputation as an innovator in retail. The entire world is becoming increasingly mobile, and we’ve been working in this space for several years. For instance:
- Target was the first major national retailer to launch a scannable mobile coupon program that allows guests to redeem offers directly from their mobile device at checkout in a store
- For the third year in a row we were recognized by the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences with a Webby Award for our iPhone shopping app in the mobile shopping category.
- In late 2011, Target launched a completely new version of Target.com which moved us from an Amazon.com-based site to one that we created and manage. The newly designed site offers robust features that encourage guests to create product reviews, add photos and videos, and interact with other guests.
Our commitment to delivering strategic innovation is demonstrated through our multichannel initiatives.
Today, the shopping experience we offer our guests extends well beyond the walls of our stores – to our Target mobile apps and Target.com. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter allow us to connect with guests, offer them great deals, and build two-way dialogue to help us make their Target experience the best it can be. By leveraging technology, we are delivering a relevant and differentiated shopping experience to our guests that is personal, simple, and accessible – anywhere, anytime.
Target Technology Services, and women and men in STEM careers, will be instrumental in bringing that vision to life.
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