Gregg Steinhafel was born in 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His grandfather, a Prussian immigrant, founded Steinhafels Furniture in Milwaukee in 1934. He began working in the store when he was in grade school, performing odd jobs. He graduated from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
In 1979, he was recruited as a merchandising trainee by Target, where he moved up the organization ranks. He became the Executive Vice President of Merchandising in July 1994 and became Chief Executive Officer on May 1, 2008. On May 2 2014, Target executives issued a "him or us" ultimatum that forced Steinhafel to resign from his position as CEO on May 5, 2014 as a result of the data breach that affected 70 million to 110 million consumers. His tenure as CEO of Target also included a disastrous expansion of Target into Canada in which the company lost $2 billion in 2 years. On top of the cost burden from buying out 220 leases of discount retailer chain Zeller's, the expansion was plagued by flawed execution, including inventory and restocking problems, poor locations and higher prices than Canadian shoppers expected.  Gregg Steinhafel received a severance package of $61 million and agreed to “remain employed by Target in an advisory capacity to assist with the transition through no later than August 23, 2014.”
Steinhafel is also Director, Member of Nominating and Governance Committee and Member of Compensation & Human Resources Committee for The Toro Company and Vice Chairman of the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
He attends Wayzata Community Church.
- ZIOBRO, PAUL; NG, SERENA. "Retailer Target Lost Its Way Under Ousted CEO Gregg Steinhafel". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 September 2014.