Former Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is recognised as one of the most influential, successful, and visionary business leaders in the world today. He is renowned for his successful leadership, business ethics and sense of public responsibility. He was Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year for 2011.
Schultz is a highly professional and passionate keynote speaker, whose presentations leave delegates inspired and motivated. He draws upon his knowledge and expertise to offer audiences advice on achieving their ambitions and sustainable success.
With over 17,000 stores in 56 countries, and with more than 200,000 employees serving over 50 million customers every week, Howard Schultz has revolutionised the coffee industry, and made Starbucks a dominant player among global food empires, as well as a lifestyle emblem. Today, no one company sells more coffee drinks, to more people, in more places, than Starbucks. Starbucks’ stock rose more than 30% in 2013, and in 2012 its market cap was valued at $35.6 billion. Shultz continues to expand its product portfolio, and to grow the company globally, opening its first stores in Vietnam and India in 2012. China is forecasted to be Starbucks’ second largest market by 2015, with 1,500 stores.
He became director of retail operations and marketing for the Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle in 1982, which at the time, only sold coffee beans, not coffee drinks. He travelled to Italy and was inspired to open an espresso bar in the U.S. His Starbucks bosses said no, so he started a rival store in 1985, making his java with Starbucks beans. After founding the coffee restaurant company Il Giornale, in 1987, he purchased Starbucks for $3.8 million. At the time, most Americans didn’t know a high-grade coffee bean from a teaspoon of Nescafé instant coffee, and coffee consumption in the US had been going down since 1962. His recipe was a success however, and he took Starbucks public in 1992. In 2000, Schultz publicly announced that he was resigning as Starbucks’s CEO. Eight years later, however, he returned to head the company, and to save it from a downward spiral, caused by the economic recession, and poor strategic decisions. In his absence, Starbucks thrived at first, yet the perils of breakneck mass-market expansion began to set in, and customer traffic started to decline for the first time. Schultz turned it around with true leadership. Staff were retrained, technology modernized, operations improved. By 2011 Starbucks’ stock price was up more than five times from its 10-year low in 2008.
The company’s vision and guiding principles have been a major part of its success. Howard Schultz says, “There needs to be a balance between commerce and social responsibility.” Few American employers offer what Starbucks under Schultz has long given its 107,000 employees in the U.S. In addition to equity grants of “Bean stock,” all full-timers and part-timers putting in at least 20 hours a week, get health care benefits. Schultz believes beneficence is good business, breeding loyalty and productivity.
Shultz is widely known as a modern, progressive executive, and an advocator of corporate action to solve America’s problems. In 2013, Schultz made headlines and won wide applause after making a statement in support of the legalization of gay marriage, and asking customers to no longer bring firearms into the stores. He has also announced a goal of hiring at least 10,000 of highly-qualified veterans and military spouses across the organisation in the coming years, and is a major supporter of the “Create Jobs for USA” plan, which is a grass-roots private fund that will make loans to small businesses in underserved markets across the country. There are not many CEOs who get presidential calls, or who meet at the presidential palace in Paris with Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss eurozone economic issues.
In 1999, Howard Schultz was awarded the “National Leadership Award” for philanthropic and educational efforts to battle AIDS, the 2004 University of Manitoba International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, the FIRST Responsible Capitalism Award 2007, and the 2007 University of Notre Dame. Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award for Ethics in Business.
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