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Howard Schultz

Chairman, President CEO of Starbucks

The global icon that is Starbucks started with a simple idea: to be a third place between work and home where customers could enjoy not only a fresh cup of coffee, but a community experience in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. With over 16,000 stores in 44 countries, and with more than 200,000 employees serving over 50 million customers every week, it’s safe to say that Starbucks has revolutionized the coffee industry as well as society at large.

The company’s vision and guiding principles have been a major part of its success. Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks instituted one of the most thorough training programs and compensation packages for all Starbucks employees.

When Schultz returned as CEO in 2008, he was on a mission to save the company from a downward spiral caused by the economic recession and poor strategic decisions. He reinvigorated the company with true leadership and as a result, Starbucks continues to remain true to its heritage by providing a personal connection and sense of community for its customers.

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Onward: How Crisis & Conviction Transformed Starbucks
When Howard Schultz reclaimed the role of Starbucks’ CEO in 2008, his morning cup of coffee had gotten pretty complicated. He had 13,000 of his stores to choose from, many unwittingly stealing business from each other. And he knew his customers were increasingly getting their own morning cup of Joe from McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks had lost much of its sheen. Schultz had watched largely from the sidelines as his company’s core values began to deteriorate. Taking the reins, he once again provided the values-based leadership and initiatives that the company needed in order to transform its business.

He also dedicated significant focus to the values and character of Starbucks, which were deeply ingrained in community and volunteerism. When Starbucks Coffee Company posted its third quarter fiscal gains in July 2009, President Barack Obama himself called Schultz to offer his congratulations. Though Schultz had created phenomenal success during Starbucks’ inception and ultimate rise, this time around, he transformed himself into a leader for today’s times. In his forthcoming book, Onward (Spring 2011), Schultz provides the blueprint for how to sustain growth and nurture employees during one of the most difficult economic periods in American history.

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■How Starbucks Built a Global Brand, UCLA