A New Role

For the past two years, I’ve been working as a product engineer developing picture frames and limited time only products. I have been largely focused on the item-level details of our various assortments. I reported to a product development manager (PDM) whose job it was to lead us through the process of product development, and ensure every member of the team (buyers, packaging, engineering, design, leadership) were all producing the right deliverables at the right time. He managed our development calendar in order to anticipate obstacles, secure resources and create strategy. He facilitated the correct conversations at the correct time to create alignment with other teams and leaders. He was a program manager at the core, with additional responsibility for team and technical strategy. It was his job to keep the cross functional team running smoothly, producing great product and getting it to stores on time.  (He did great, btw.)

Well, now, it’s my job!

As of last week, I joined the Housewares team who develops kitchen tools & gadgets, barware, bakeware, cookware and cutlery. Target has tremendous breadth of product in these categories, and many different brands both Target-owned and national. Our part in this is the development of owned or exclusive brand offerings such as Chefmate, Room Essentials and Threshold. I also get to lead a team with incredible talent and guest empathy who weave user experience into everything they do.

As I onboard into this new role, I’m drawing both great strength and caution from my own experience as a Target engineer. I know the product development process in and out, and the specific ways I accomplished the job. In this role, however, I have to use that experience judiciously, because even a few weeks in I’m fighting the urge to solve – to prescribe – to execute! I’ve led teams and people before, but I was always alongside them developing product in a same or similar job. It was easy to lead by executional example. As a PDM, I step away from that somewhat and lead through other means. I must now use experience not to hand down solutions, but to influence, to organize, to build consensus and enable my team to bring their own experience to a better solution.

I’m excited to have the time to focus on team, resources, and grow skills in cross-functional leadership. It’s a natural next step given my background and future goals, even if it feels unfamiliar to step back from the day to day. Although, as exploration of unfamiliarity has been the goal of my Target experience, I’m still on the right track.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

  • Robin Thomas

    December 18th, 2013


    I saw the story about you design and development department on Good Morning American and thought “That’s the job for me!” I would love to be able to design some great products for Taget so please tell me what type of education I would need to persue my dream

  • elisa


    December 19th, 2013

    Hi Robin-

    Thanks for your interest in a career with Target! Each position at Target has specific and unique education requirement. I’d encourage you to look at our website, http://www.target.com/careers, to browse our current job openings and learn more about the requirements.

    Thank you!
    Elisa & the Target Careers team

  • T.E.

    January 14th, 2014

    Hello Reid and Elisa! It has been great fun reading about Reid’s experiences on Target’s PD&D team through this blog. I’m curious if Target PD&D designers/engineers like Reid or Le’Spencer Walker (who was profiled here: https://corporate.target.com/discover/article/five-questions-with-a-product-engineer) or others would be available to be a guest speaker and present this kind of work to students at universities here in the Twin Cities? If that is something Target HQ offers as a kind of community outreach effort, I would love to offer that kind of opportunity in my class — my students would really enjoy and appreciate that kind of real-world insight into the industry. How might an instructor get in touch with the PD&D team to inquire? I would be happy to follow up with more specifics, I just don’t know who to contact other than Target’s general “guest services” email. Thanks!

  • elisa


    February 20th, 2014

    Hi T.E.-

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve passed your request on to our campus recruiting team– they will reach out to you directly if they are able to fulfill your request.

    Elisa & the Target Careers team

  • Delia OHare

    May 14th, 2014

    My son will be entering his Freshman year of undergrad studies in aerospace engineering, this Fall at Penn State, University Park, PA. I was wondering two fold, does Target offer any scholarships specific to degree choice, and, any possibility of internships? I recall reading about your aerospace engineer Reid’s path from aerospace designer to product engineer for Target, and loved this story. My son is strong in his combination of math and physics, with a curious mind. More recently in a school physics project to design a ‘pumpkin launcher’ he researched criteria to build a large scale launcher, constructed form a bed frame, 2×4 posts, and wide eland elastic to help propel the motion. They won their category, successfully launching giant pumpkins 150 feet through the air!!

    As a designer myself, with a Masters in design form the Royal College of Art in London, I understand the importance of a good education in a specific field in order to translate these talents to a broad platform of design challenges.
    I would welcome any feedback and support you may have for my son as he begins his college journey, knowing the importance of both, strong academics, and community service.
    thank you
    Delia OHare

  • elisa


    May 21st, 2014

    Hi Delia-

    Thanks for reaching out! As far an internships, all openings can be found on our Career site:

    As far as our scholarship and grants programs, you can find information here:

    Sounds like your son’s physics project was a great success!

    -Target Careers Team

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