Will Starbucks be the same without Howard Schultz as CEO?
Yesterday’s news that Howard Schultz will step down next year as the chief executive officer of Starbucks shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all, Mr. Schultz said he was taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the company to focus on the development of its Reserve and Roastery concepts back in July. The question is whether this will be a permanent move or if Mr. Schultz will feel compelled in the future to ride back in and rescue the company as he did once before.
Kevin Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Starbucks and a member of its board for seven years, will assume CEO duties in April of next year. Before joining the executive management team at Starbucks, Mr. Johnson spent 33 years working at tech companies, including 16 years at Microsoft and five as CEO of Juniper Networks.
“Over the past two decades, I have grown to know Starbucks first as a customer, then as a director on the board, and for the past two years as a member of the management team,” said Mr. Johnson in a statement. “Through that journey, I fell in love with Starbucks and I share Howard’s commitment to our mission and values and his optimism for the future.”
Mr. Schultz, who will become executive chairman of the board following the switch, called Mr. Johnson “my partner in running every facet of Starbucks’ business over the last two years.”
While the ascension of Mr. Johnson into the CEO role seems well conceived, there is concern about anyone filling the shoes of Mr. Schultz based on the company’s previous experience. Back in 2005, Mr. Schultz turned the job over to Jim Donald, a former grocery executive, only to come back three years later as the company struggled. While acknowledging at the time that some of the issues were the result of a faltering economy, Mr. Schultz also said many were of Starbucks’ “own making.”
Starbucks’ shares fell more than three percent in premarket trading today.
- Starbucks Announces New Leadership Structure to Drive Next Wave of Growth – Starbucks Corporation
- Starbucks shares fall as CEO Schultz steps down – CNBC
- Will Starbucks prosper or slide as CEO changes focus? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Kevin Johnson bringing fresh perspective to the role of Starbucks CEO that might change the direction of the company? Do you think Starbucks will ultimately be more or less successful as a result of its new management structure?