Howard Schultz built Starbucks Coffee Company into one of the world’s most recognized and respected businesses, a company committed to strengthening communities through human connection and innovation.
Howard grew up in public housing in Brooklyn and was the first in his family to graduate college. As a young entrepreneur, he set out to build a different kind of company, one that delivers business excellence through a culture of compassion. Under his leadership, Starbucks grew from eleven stores with 100 partners (employees) to more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries, employing nearly 350,000 partners serving approximately 90 million customers per week. As ceo, he pioneered programs like comprehensive healthcare, stock ownership and free college tuition for full and part-time employees. In 2011, Fortune named Howard ceo of the year and, in 2019, Fortune ranked Starbucks fifth on its list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
From 1987-2018, Howard served as ceo and executive chairman of Starbucks board of directors, one of America’s most diverse corporate boards. He led the company’s IPO and presided over more than 100 quarterly earnings calls. From the time the company went public in 1992 until 2018, his last year as executive chairman, he oversaw a 21,826 percent return to shareholders. In 2014, he predicted a seismic shift in consumer behavior for brick and mortar retailers and decided to invest heavily in mobile technology to elevate the experience in stores and drive customer loyalty. As a result, today Starbucks has the number one ranked retail mobile app platform.
After the company initially struggled to gain traction in China, Howard made the decision to hire and empower a local leadership team focused on the long game. Twenty years since opening its first store in China, no other Western company or brand is better positioned to evolve with the rapidly expanding Chinese middle class than Starbucks. Today, the company operates approximately 4,400 stores in 141 cities in China employing 58,000 partners. With a new store opening every 18 hours, Starbucks China’s steadfast commitment to disciplined growth, has resulted in a store portfolio that has some of the company’s most innovative, efficient and profitable stores in the world.
Since leaving Starbucks, Howard has turned his attention with his wife Sheri to ways they can help to build a more moral, more decent America. Together they co-founded the Schultz Family Foundation, which develops and supports a range of philanthropic initiatives across the United States to lift populations out of risk, particularly young people and post-9/11 veterans. Through the Emes Project LLC, Howard is bringing an entrepreneurial lens to public-private partnerships, strategic advocacy, policy challenges, and political reform with the goal of increasing opportunity and reducing inequality for all Americans. Both organizations are being funded in part by investments the Schultz family is making in the entrepreneurial companies of tomorrow. As part of investing in values-based, innovative people and companies, Howard is offering mentoring and guidance through the lens of his experience building Starbucks. Returns from many of these investments will be re-invested in the Schultz Family Foundation and the Emes Project to increase the family’s impact over the long-term, with the goal of creating meaningful change for generations to come.
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