Days before he officially steps down as Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz turned over the reins of the company by literally handing over the keys to his successor, COO Kevin Johnson, at the annual shareholders meeting at McCaw Hall in Seattle on Wednesday, March 22.
According to The Washington Post, Schultz reached into his pocket and produced the door key to Seattle’s Pike Place Market store. The gesture carries a lot of weight, as the store is Starbucks’ original location. Johnson will officially be taking over CEO duties on April 3.
At the annual shareholders meeting, Schultz said, “This has been in my pocket for 35 years.”
Apart from the symbolic gesture, the meeting also featured a flag presentation by the Seattle Recruiting Battalion Color Guard, an appearance by Grammy nominee Leon Bridges, and the singing of the national anthem by a chorus of Starbucks employees.
As a CEO, Schultz has made a lasting impression on employees as he initiated ways to help baristas get their degrees online. He also served as an example for a lot of American entrepreneurs as he orchestrated the placement of Starbucks franchises on military bases to provide jobs for veterans and soldiers’ spouses.
In the recent months, he has made headlines for vowing to hire 10,000 immigrants as a response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. At the shareholders meeting, Fortune reports that Schultz made a new promise for hiring veterans and military spouses. The CEO said that Starbucks plans to hire 25,000 by 2025.
On his initial promise, Schultz said, “I am proud to announce that we have already met and exceeded that [10,000] goal.”
As previously reported by Jobs & Hire, it was said that Schultz is being eyed to participate in the 2020 Democratic race. But as he steps down as CEO and moves into an executive chairman role in the company, Schultz said, “I don’t have any plans to run for political office.”
However, the 63-year-old said that as he has more time on his hands now that he’s no longer the CEO of Starbucks, he is hoping to “work toward elevating the national conversation on a more compassionate society, on a more compassionate government.”