Staples has appointed Brett Wahlin as its chief information security officer, a newly-created position in the company that calls for Wahlin to lead global enterprise-wide information, product and data security, according to a company press release.
“Wahlin’s role will be key in the digital transformation of Staples’ business. As customer needs evolve rapidly towards greater use of technology with an acceleration into online and mobile, security threats will continue to increase," the company said in a statement.
Wahlin will report to Staples CTO Faisal Masud, who leads Staples Digital Solutions, a new organization within the company which combines its traditional IT and digital organizations. He will also tackle duties beyond traditional cyber security into product development, connected devices, fraud and loss prevention.
Chief information security officer (CISO) has become an increasingly common executive post within large companies over the last decade or so, particularly as issues like corporate cybersecurity, client data security and disaster recovery have become more prevalent concerns.
That said, CISOs still may not be as common in retail as they are in other industries, such as telecommunications, IT and healthcare. With the recent rise in data hacks and other cybersecurity threats affecting retail, that probably needs to change before retailers run into large-scale cybersecurity attacks. It was a data breach that appeared to drive Nieman Marcus to hire its first CISO almost three years ago.
Wahlin, who has 30 years of experience leading large enterprise information security architecture and development, joins Staples from a telecom/IT company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, where he was the CISO. He also previously held the same position at Los Alamos National Laboratory and at one point was chief security officer at Sony Network Entertainment International and security company McAfee. He began his career as a counterintelligence agent in the U.S. Army.
Staples also had never had a CTO before it named Masud to that position in December. It seems increasingly clear that the retailer is intent on consolidating a wide range of technology responsibilities under a few key executives. It's one way of ensuring that such executives participate in functions all across the organization. However, we'll have to see what Staples and Masud have in mind for Wahlin. Giving him duties in product development and connected devices could hint at a new direction for some Staples products and services.