(Photo : Getty Images for The New York Times/Bryan Bedder)
It’s the end of an era for Starbucks as Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO. According to reports, the coffee powerhouse’s chief executive is officially leaving his post on April 2 but will stay on as executive chairman. Starbucks’ chief operating officer, Kevin Johnson, will be taking over as CEO on April 3.
This isn’t the first time that Schultz left Starbucks. The executive left the company for eight years before returning in 2008, only to find that the company was in dire straits after over-expansion. Fast forward to this year and Starbucks is not only on stable footing, but is a recognized leader in the coffee shop industry.
After stepping down as CEO, Schultz will focus on building the company’s more high-end businesses, including its Roasteries and a new line of premium Reserve coffee shops, according to Seattle Times.
Harvard Business School professor and historian Nancy Koehn said that Schultz “made a powerful brand, a powerful company, with a set of values” and that the executive is “an important pathbreaker in establishing a bigger social and political footprint for a public company.”
Schultz has made headlines due to his support of Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election. Earlier this year, he vowed to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years as a response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Trump supporters have called for a boycott of the coffee chain since then.
As CEO, Schultz valued his employees as he offered to subsidize tuition for baristas who are looking to get their degrees online, according to The Daily Mail. He also initiated the placement of Starbucks franchises on military bases so that the company can provide jobs to veterans and soldiers’ spouses.
Schultz has a net worth estimated at $3.1 billion. However, there is a possibility that the 63-year-old won’t be retiring and might be running for the highest office in the land in 2020. The New York Times previously reported that Democrats are urging Schultz to run.
Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School co-director David Gergen told the media outlet that Schultz is “definitely being pursued” to run in the next Democratic race.
“He has a powerful social conscience,” said Gergen. “He comes from a very different place than the kind of chief executive with a big ego who wants the trappings of presidential power.”
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