News Feature | May 16, 2017

Staples Adds First Chief Information Security Officer

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Staples Sign

Brett Whalin joins company as head of global enterprise-wide information, product, and data security.

Information security is increasingly important in today’s digital world, and in recognition of that fact, Staples has named its first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Brett Whalin.  In this new role, Whalin will oversee global enterprise-wide information, product, and data security, and will report to Faisal Masud, head of Staples Digital Solutions and Chief Technology Officer.  Whalin served as vice president and CISO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), where he was responsible for all aspects of information security, including security operations and intelligence, security architecture, cyber risk and governance, product lifecycle security, business security and transformation, industry next security and cyber service delivery.  He also served previously as Chief Security Officer (CSO) for Sony network Entertainment International; CSO at McAfee; CISO at Los Alamos National Laboratory; vice president of security architecture for Wells Fargo; and a variety of titles in security at Intel.

Whalin will hold a central role in the digital transformation of Staples’ business, a tectonic shift that the company has recently begun. Security threats are on the rise, particularly as customer needs gravitate towards greater use of technology and move online and via mobile. Whalin will oversee not only traditional cyber security issues, but also product development, connected devices, fraud and loss prevention.

“The security of both our customers and Staples’ data is critical,” asserted Masud, “and we’ll look to Brett to bring his knowledge of the latest security standards and best practices to the role, as we continue to evolve into a digital-first company.”

The creation of this new role comes as the company is pondering a potential sale to an investment firm in order to reduce public pressure while it focuses on growth, as Innovative Retail Technologies reported. Earlier this month, unnamed sources told Reuters that private equity firms Cerberus Capital Management LP and Sycamore Partners were each looking at a potential purchase. Staples has not commented on the rumors of a sale.

Staples is launching a concerted rebranding effort that emphasizes its business contracts operations, the most lucrative side of its business, according to Bloomberg. While Staples maintains the largest market share of office supply stores in the U.S. at 48 percent, and has increased its share since 2011 according to Euromonitor, it still faces growing competition from online suppliers like Amazon that cause some concern for potential investors.

The new ad campaign focuses on a whole new image. Frank Bifulco, Staples Chief Marketing Officer, told Bloomberg, “We wanted to tell a new Staples story. It’s going to convey to all audiences that Staples is much more than a retail office-supply company.”