Target is proud to once again sponsor the Grace Hopper Celebration – the world’s largest gathering of women technologists designed to highlight the research and career interests of women in computing. This year we’re bringing a few of our best and brightest to share their insights with attendees, while also showcasing how Target is leveraging data, technology and a culture of learning to drive innovations in retail.

In advance of the conference, the Pulse team caught up with a few of this year’s presenters. Read on for what excites them most about their work – and then visit for the schedule and topics they’ll be covering at this year’s event.


What’s the most exciting or innovative project your team is currently working on?

Mike McNamara, Chief Information Officer: I love when we work through complexities to make things simple. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: through focus and simplicity, you can move mountains. For example, I’m excited for our work to create one, enterprise checkout system – for stores and online sales. I’m also excited about the innovation and simplicity of the new, personalized mobile platform we’re developing for store team members.

Jodie Kautt, VP Cyber Security: I truly love what we do so I find it all exciting! We actually have 12 patents pending right now, which demonstrates how we’re continuously driving innovation in the cyber security industry.

Tell us more about how data and technology innovations have enabled Target to be a leader in the retail industry.

Yolanda Smith, Lead Info Security Analyst: I have yet to encounter a company as guest-obsessed as Target. It is truly fanatical and this attitude is reflected in the unique technology experiences we provide to our guests that our peers in retail do not. We don’t just want our guests to come in when they need something, we want our guests to genuinely look forward to spending time in Target and finding that certain something that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. There’s a feeling you get when you go into a Target or shop on our website. Our data and technology innovations are critical to inspiring that feeling and driving the guest experience. It is through these innovations that we enable our guests to feel truly seen without being intrusive; to inspire creative solutions to complex, sometimes regional challenges and; to provide a unified, ‘one Target’ digital-to-stores guest experience.

Mike: For years, consultants have talked about this lofty term “omnichannel” to describe how digital and physical are coming together in retail. That’s just a reality of how we live today. And Target’s become a leader in this space with experiences like same-day delivery, Order Pickup, Drive Up and the Target App. Great technology and data are foundational for Target’s efforts to lead the way in retail.

How about a time when Target incorporated diverse perspectives to influence an initiative?

Joana Cruz, Sr. Engineering Manager: At Target, we believe that diverse and inclusive teams make the company stronger. We not only encourage diversity of thought and background, but also invest in it. For example, in 2017 we established the Engineering Management Immersion Program (eMIP), which is one of many company-led initiatives that supports women in leadership. Its purpose is to help historically under-represented talent develop skills to prepare for managements roles in technology, and I am proud to be a member of the pioneer cohort.

Mike: My favorite example of Target leveraging diverse perspectives was when we launched our new children’s clothing line, Cat & Jack, with which our product designers took the initiative to create sensory-friendly items. They followed that up with adaptive clothing designed for kids and toddlers living with disabilities. It’s just one example of work that embodies Target’s purpose of bringing joy to all families.

What advice would you share with someone considering a career in technology or data science with Target?

Jodie: Go for it! I have grown so much personally and professionally during my time at Target due to the focus we have for continued learning and development. For example, we make a commitment to our team members for 50 Days of Learning. Think about investing that much time in yourself. Imagine the progress you will make year over year.

Connie Yu, Director of Compute Services: With over 1,800 stores, 39 distribution centers, more than 350,000 team members, and hundreds of thousands of Target guests, our work has significant impacts. And that’s one of the reasons our data science and technology teams are highly engaged – because we’re passionate about delivering the best experiences to our end users.

I believe Target creates a good culture for engineers. We make continuous learning a priority and promote a “growth mindset” to give engineers the bandwidth to learn and develop. Fostering diverse and inclusive teams is important and Target gives leaders several tools to create a safe environment to incorporate different perspectives.

So if the impact of our work and our culture sound appealing to you, my advice is to connect with us. You will learn how we keep pushing the boundaries of using technologies to create value, and you may also find several innovative projects you’d like to be part of.

Mike: Apply. We’re hiring. We want engineers who are curious and analytical, who are passionate about learning and who like to solve big problems.

Finally, what’s one word that represents what Grace Hopper Celebration means to you?

Jodie: Ignite

Connie: Inspiration

Mike: Potential

Joana: Empowerment

Yolanda: Arrival

For a more on where to catch up with Target at the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration, including a schedule of our presenters and how to register for one of their sessions, visit