Starbucks: Howard Schultz (CEO)
It’s hard to imagine a world in which there isn’t a Starbucks on every corner. Thanks to Howard Schultz, we don’t have to. After 20 years as the visionary brew master (and first joining in 1982), Schultz will step down as CEO of Starbucks to devote his time to “further a social impact agenda”. Schultz served as CEO from 1987 – 2000 and took a short coffee break before returning to the role in 2008 to bring Starbucks through the financial crisis. It may take you two venti cups of cappuccino to get through Schultz’s list of accomplishments, including: providing full health benefits for full and part-time employees and their domestic partners in 1988, becoming the first privately owned company in 1991 to provide part-time workers with stock-options, introducing a college degree program for baristas, the acquisition of now 400+ store Teavana, and increasing the company’s market value from $15 billion to $84 billion, and nearly 25,000 stores.
Caution: Contents are Hot…Schultz also put Starbucks at the forefront of many social issues including gun violence, gay rights, race relations, veterans rights, and student debt. While Shultz is not leaving the company entirely, more than a few speculate that his tenure, and tepid departure, lays the groundwork for a stiffer drink of national politics. Schultz claims he has no plans to run for public office. In the meantime, Starbucks is left to address flattening average store sales, underwhelming food item revenue, and increasingly complex new store rollouts. The current COO, Kevin Johnson will officially take over on April 3, 2017.