Paul Singer, Former CIO at Target And Supervalu, Succumbs To Brain Cancer

One of the more beloved and respected retail IT leaders died Friday (June 11) after a bout with brain cancer. The 56-year-old Paul Singer, who had served as the CIO at both Target and Supervalu, fought the disease for 19 months.

A teleconference memorial, where participants will be invited to record their recollections of the man, will be held Mon., June 28, 4 PM (New York time). The call-in number will be 866-682-4770, with a Call ID of 2947254 and a participant code of 1234. Those interested in participating are asked to fill out the registry.

But some of his associates didn't wait until then to start sharing. In a memo to Supervalu IT people, current Supervalu CIO Wayne Shurts listed some of Singer's accomplishments at that chain.

"In just the few short years that he led our IT function, Paul successfully merged two IT organizations into one, set the framework for common systems, began a Vendor Management function to handle all IT-related vendor relationships, brought on Oracle as our chosen ERP partner and introduced the used of competitive events for technology sourcing," Shurts wrote in a memo. "In addition, he expanded the company’s global reach by establishing Supervalu India."

One of Singer's passionate causes was helping global adoptions after he adopted three girls from Russia. He was a board member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a board member of the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and cofounder of the Retail Orphan Initiative. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that memorial donations be made to Steven Curtis Chapman's adoption foundation, Show Hope.

Indeed, Greg Buzek, president of IHL and one of the leaders of the Retail Orphan Initiative, sent an E-mail to supporters saying he would either like to rename his annual retail tech analyst panel session in January the "Second Annual Paul Singer Retail ROI Super Saturday" event or create an annual leadership/visionary award in Singer's honor.

Cathy Hotka, a longtime retail IT guru, shared a story about Singer's early career. "In one of his first jobs, he was selected to manage the auto bays at a Kmart store. He knew nothing about auto repair and asked current employees what they needed. They responded that female patrons, usually moms with little kids, felt uncomfortable in the seen-better-days waiting room," Hotka wrote. "Paul worked with the longtime employees to ask for, and get, a minor amount of money from Kmart to paint the waiting area, buy subscriptions to women's magazines and put in new chairs. Almost overnight, his auto bay was the best performing in the Kmart chain."

Hotka said Singer's personal charm went way beyond IT management. "Paul had a gift for making everyone feel special. I will never forget the kind way he’d say 'Hi, Cathy,' slowly, like he was savoring every moment of saying hello to me. He treated everyone this way."