In October 2017 Starbucks tapped the former CEO of Sam’s Club, Rosalind Brewer to be its second-in-command at the coffee chain, she was brought on to improve store operations. Starbucks has been striving to quicken service at its stores and more seamlessly integrate its mobile ordering service. Brewer, already a Starbucks board member helped her land the job.
“She has been a trusted strategic counselor to me ever since she joined our board of directors, and I deeply value her insight, business acumen, and leadership expertise,” Johnson CEO of Starbucks said in a statement.
Rosalind became the first female and first African American in the No. 2 spot at Starbucks.
It’s not hard to imagine her someday as No. 1.
“We all know the statistics, that when there are women on boards, when there are more women in the C-suites, the company performance and the bottom line is extraordinarily different and better,” Brewer said during a speech she gave in June. “It’s just in our DNA.”
Brewer leads Starbucks’ operating businesses across Canada, the U.S. and Latin America as well as the global functions of the supply chain, product innovation and store development.
The chief operating officer role has long been a launch pad at Starbucks. When Howard Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2000, he ceded the role to COO Orin Smith. When Schultz returned, COO Troy Alstead was thought to be in the running to replace him but instead left to start his own company.
Brewer’s family got death threats in 2015 after a CNN interview where she said she demands diversity on her team and talks openly with suppliers about it. That fits well with Starbucks, which has never been a stranger to the spotlight or backlash from stances on same-sex marriage, racism and other controversial issues.
Starbucks is also a leader when it comes to diversity. The company has one of the most diverse boards in the country, with women in 29 percent of the seats and ethnic minorities in 36 percent.
“Starbucks is a very people-centered organization. … There is a real sense of wanting to treat people well,” said former Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum, who worked with Brewer for 10 years. “Roz shares those values.”
Brewer joined the board of trustees for the Atlanta college, her alma mater, in 2006. She dedicates time to mentoring young women at the historically black liberal arts college and makes sure they realize they can do what she does.
Starbucks’ growth “from a small coffee shop in Seattle to a global organization … requires people who are at the top of their game and I think that describes Roz Brewer to a T,” Tatum said.