Tag Archives: Starbucks

Foster students brew up delivery solutions for Starbucks

Guest post by Josina Garnham, experiential learning manager

Starbucks winning teamThe warm chocolatey-caramel notes swirling through the air is what you notice first–often times before you even open the door. When you do enter the storefront, you are enveloped by the sound of well-selected jazz, the buzz of the espresso machine and the friendly baristas calling out the names of customers and their made-to-order beverages.

Starbucks, a ubiquitous brand globally and especially here in Seattle, is seeking to extend this experience from their stores to meet its customers’ just-in-time demands. Graduating seniors from the Foster School were invited to join Starbucks in developing solutions on how to deliver fresh beverages without compromising on quality and maintaining the company’s value of “delivering our very best in all we do.”

Each quarter the Foster School partners with a Seattle-based company to develop a customized business case as part of a required capstone course (MGMT430) for all graduating seniors. The case, written by Anna Fung, Foster PhD student, and overseen by Rick McPherson, course coordinator, presents an urgent business issue in a condensed format. The Foster Strategy Development Case Competition is one of the largest single-day case competitions in the world. This winter’s competition with Starbucks featured 54 teams comprised of over 225 students.

For Dave Twehues, director of Global Corporate Strategy, the decision to partner with the Foster School was an easy one: “I think the value of the case competition from Starbucks is twofold. First, the participation of our partners as judges is a great way for Starbucks to connect with future business leaders and second, the exposure to the creative solutions delivered by the student teams brings fresh perspectives to really difficult business problems.”

To develop a winning solution, the students focused on Starbucks’s mission and values: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Madeline Sykes, a senior finance major, noted, “it is important to do research on the company’s values and we knew Starbucks values its customers very highly. We started off our presentation by presenting a story about a target customer and the customer’s needs.”

Student teams have three weeks to research the issue and prepare presentations summarizing their recommendations to business leaders—both Foster alumni and Starbucks employees who serve as judges. For Matt Hansen, an accounting major, “the Q&A section…is the hardest part to prepare for. This is one area that our team spent a lot of time focusing on because it is where groups can differentiate themselves by their ability to think on their feet and shows how confident they are in their business proposal/strategy.”

The winning team of Renee Chiang, Allison Gaylor, Matt Hansen, Rebecca Ruh, Kamal Sohal, and Madeline Sykes proposed meeting the challenge of delivering Starbucks beverages with the solution of creating smaller satellite “stores” which would focus on preparing drinks for delivery exclusively. Current stores maintain a brisk business with customers walking in the doors. The student’s research—including frequenting area Starbucks cafes—led them to hypothesize that increasing demands on these storefronts for delivery orders would slow service in both areas. From these small-scale, delivery-focused beverage outlets, bike messengers would be deployed to deliver both hot and cold drinks in specially designed temperature controlled bags.

Beyond understanding the company’s values, having a strong situation analysis, well-justified idea, and presenting their solution in a clear and compelling way, what really differentiates teams are their interpersonal dynamics. Ruh said, “Our success in the case competition was rooted in the relaxed, yet focused environment we created. Our vision developed alongside our team synergy. Taking this experience into the future, the strengths of lightheartedness and creativity, are key components that will define future teamwork endeavors, essential in today’s business world.”

“What I learned about teamwork and team dynamics I will definitely…take with me to my future career” said Renee Chiang. “This was my first time participating in a case competition and it taught me to be confident with myself and my ideas. That confidence would definitely be something I hope to apply to my career—from negotiation to pitching my ideas.”

On March 18, 2015 Starbucks announced the launch of delivery services in Seattle and New York City. Foster School of Business students will be amongst the first to be delighted by having a perfectly prepared, hand-delivered cup of coffee to fuel their last quarter of studies before graduating in June.

To learn more about previous Strategy Development Case Competitions please see our competition webpage and the following Foster Unplugged posts: Alaska Airlines and
Seattle City Light

Get started early on career management

Guest post by Naomi Sanchez, EdD, CMC, Assistant Dean, MBA Career Management

MBA Career Day at StarbucksEmployers are meeting with incoming MBA students before classes start and internship recruiting has been pushed back into early fall. Year-round networking is required for students in today’s job market. Why? Competition for companies to find the best and brightest is fierce. MBA students are entering a competitive job market and preparation for the interview season starts early. At Foster, we offered several summer workshops on professional brand development, interviewing skills and resume preparation. We also held a special summer orientation for incoming international students to prepare them for recruiting. MBA students will need to have both hard and soft skills to be successful in today’s job market. They must be able to articulate who they are, what they have to offer and what they want to accomplish in their career. Though it may seem simple, considerable preparation for this conversation is required. We teach the three Cs to students: Competence, Confidence and Connections. They need to be strong in all three to find the next step in their career. And they must start building and developing themselves for this challenging job market as soon as they arrive. In light of this competitive landscape, here are my three pieces of advice for the MBA Class of 2015:

  1. Know your professional brand
  2. Have the drive to make things happen
  3. Write thank you notes regularly

Thank you to Starbucks for hosting Career Day for the MBA class of 2015 on Friday, September 13.

Students connect with professionals

Costco Field TripThe Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) tracks have been exploring out-of-classroom activities by organizing field trips to local internationally-focused businesses. Many of these trips have been set up by partnering with CISB alumni. Not only is this a great way for alumni to get involved, it also allows current students to see where a CISB certificate can take them, and is a great way for them to learn more about some exciting local companies. Here are a few highlights:

Spanish Track:
In February, 2011, the Spanish track went on a trip to the Starbucks headquarters, where they met with CISB Spanish Track alumna Julie Anderson, Ethical Sourcing Manager in the Department of Global Responsibility, along with a colleague of hers. After being given a tour of the office, students were taken to the tasting room where they learned about the process Starbucks uses when choosing coffee beans to be used in production. They even got to sample some different coffee roasts for themselves! Students were then shown a short presentation highlighting the C.A.F.E. program for Ethical Sourcing, which ensures an overall ethical cultivation, distribution, and selling process.

Japanese and Chinese Tracks:
In January 2011, the Japanese and Chinese tracks had the opportunity to tour the new Seattle Amazon.com campus and learn more about this internationally-focused company. Carson Chu, a CISB Japanese track honorary alumnus, has worked at Amazon for six years and is now manager of the Shares Services Asia Department. He showed the students around the facility and talked about the company’s current activities and future vision. The students heard about Amazon’s current developments in the China market and how skills learned as a CISB student can be applied in the workplace.

After the trip, Carson invited two of the Japanese track members, both candidates for Amazon Financial Analyst positions, to meet with him and do mock interviews to prepare for the official job interviews.

The Japanese track also met informally with Costco CEO Jim Sinegal during a field trip to the company in May, 2011.

German Track:
Bob Vollbracht, Regional Director, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, hosted the German track at the Auburn, Washington facility in October, 2010. The students witnessed cross-dock transloading operations, got an up-close look at various trucks, containers, cargo and equipment, and received an explanation on warehouse inventory management.

Students Ashley Matsumoto and Darcy Lloyd said, “We are grateful for the many benefits that CISB provides, not only in preparation for international business jobs and careers but in helping us connect with our amazing alumni and local international companies.”

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business.

Leaders Fueling Leaders: The Gift of Mentorship

A cup of coffee. A conversation. Two Starbucks leaders offer their views on the value of encouragement—a veritable “she said, he said” perspective on the power of mentoring and being mentored.

Early in her career, Michelle Gass (MBA 1999), now Starbucks executive vice president of marketing and category, received validation and encouragement from Howard Behar, Foster Fritzky Chair in Leadership and Starbucks past president, to grow and flourish as a leader, support she credits with helping her identify and develop her natural leadership style. Read their conversation below:

How did Howard Behar validate you as a leader early in your career?

Gass: I had the fortune to work directly for Howard when he returned from retirement to the role of President of Starbucks North America.  I had always heard many stories about Howard and his leadership of people, but until then had not benefited from it directly.  I will always remember one of my first one-on-one meetings with him. As I was readying to give him a full report on all my business topics, he stopped me and said he would prefer to use the time to talk about me; my leadership, my aspirations, my fears.  He told me he believed in me, that I could someday rise to very senior levels of leadership in the company, and that he wanted to work with me to help me get there.  I remember being quite surprised; I had never even considered or believed that I could be a high-level executive, never mind one for one of the most revered companies and brands in the world.  But through the work we did together Howard helped me develop my own leadership agenda; how I could lead in a way that was natural to who I was, and one that could have a positive impact on both the people I was leading and the business results I was driving. Howard is known throughout Starbucks for the following saying: “People don’t care how much you know…They want to know how much you care.” He walked the talk, and I got to follow in those steps.

What’s your perspective on mentoring Michelle Gass?

Behar: Most of the time mentoring is just about encouragement….with someone like Michelle I really was never going to teach her anything about her specific job….what I could add was encouragement.  I believed in her and I always let her know that I thought she had what it took to be a great leader.  Most of what we need from mentors is just someone who believes in us and gives us the courage and support to take on greater challenges.  It is amazing what people can accomplish if they know that there is someone that they can be totally honest with and that they can trust to look out for their best interests.  Michelle had all of the innate skills so my main job was just to make sure she did not doubt herself.  I knew without a doubt that one day she would have a very senior role in the company and I let her know that almost every day……guess I was pretty clairvoyant.

How has having a good mentor helped you succeed as a leader?

Gass: It starts with someone believing in you. People can achieve results far greater than they would have thought possible if someone is there encouraging and reassuring, through the good and tough times. Howard did that for me, as have other mentors that I have worked with over the years. Mentors also impart little gems along the way that you go back to as you mature as a leader. I remember one day Howard asked me if I came to work willing to risk my job to stand up for my convictions.  I was taken aback; of course I didn’t want to lose my job!  But over the years, as I have faced dozens of complex decisions and issues, I hear Howard’s voice in the back of my head with that question, and it has never served me wrong.

How did being mentored in your career impact your mentoring others?

Behar: I had great mentors all of my life. Sometimes they found me other times I found them. I was so interested in learning that I was relentless in looking for people that could not only help me grow my business skills but more importantly my human skills. The truth is that without all of the wonderful coaches I had along the way I would not have had the opportunities that have come my way. By the way, many people think that mentors need to be older, wiser, more experienced etc then we are, but that is not true at all.  Some of the best coaching I have had has come from peers and direct reports particularly people that were younger then I was. They always had a different perspective than I had and they were always challenging my beliefs. It is so important that we learn from everyone, not just those who are in more senior positions. At the end of the day, each of has a responsibility to help others whenever we can—just like Karma—you get what you give. It is amazing how much you can learn about yourself just by coaching others.