Starbucks president and chief executive officer Kevin Johnson sent the following message to all partners (employees) on July 12.


My Starbucks journey began more than eight years ago, and among my favorite memories are the days of my immersion.

On my first day, I visited the cupping room in Seattle. The aroma of coffee filled the air as the talented partners from our coffee team led a coffee tasting and educated me, a new Starbucks board member, about the bean’s journey from farm to cup. They described the beautiful farms where our coffee is grown, the attention that is placed on helping our farmers, and how our master roasters determine the appropriate roast profiles by “listening to the coffee.”

My immersion continued in our stores as I wore my first green apron. Behind the coffee bar, I listened as our store partners described the joy they felt connecting with customers and working together, as a family. Then, at the Kent Roasting Plant, I witnessed the artistry of the roasting process, toured the distribution center, and once again listened as partners proudly explained how they work hard to serve our store partners so that our store partners may better serve our customers.

My immersion exposed me to a simple truth that the years since have amplified: it is you, my Starbucks partners around the world, who are responsible for our success, and that success comes because you are in service to others. As ceo, I consider myself in service to you.

Starbucks has a long history of caring for and serving our partners, from being among the first companies to offer Healthcare and Bean Stock for full- and part-time partners to, more recently, the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in the U.S., the Home Sweet Loan program in the U.K., and the recently announced China healthcare benefit for partners’ parents. These are all wonderful examples of our market leaders listening to partners, understanding their needs as people, and finding creative ways for the company to address those needs.

Continuing to listen to you through partner roundtables, open forums around the world, and interactions on Workplace is very important to me, and I’ve asked each member of the SLT to ensure they, too, have the right tools to engage with their partners so they may understand what is most relevant to you, as well as to your families.

Strong leadership of our Partner Resources Organization (PRO) is also critical to our company’s ability to serve all of our partners. That is why, today, I am so very pleased to announce the news that I shared with our PRO and L&CA teams, which received a standing ovation.

Effective immediately, Lucy Lee Helm, an 18-year partner, the company’s general counsel since 2012 and current member of the senior leadership team, will serve as Starbucks chief partner officer, leading PRO.

Lucy is ideal for this role. During her years at Starbucks, she has held a variety of important positions that have, in sum, given her a comprehensive understanding of Starbucks operations and our unique culture. As many of you already know, to work with Lucy is to understand her profound passion for partner advocacy. She started our very own Starbucks Global Inclusion Council and has sponsored multiple Partner Networks including the Women’s Development Network, Pride Network, and Access Alliance Network. Her commitment to diversity and pro bono work has made her a nationally recognized leader in the legal profession, and as head of PRO she will be an advocate for our partners worldwide.

Lucy also is a leader who listens, and she comes to her new role with deep connections to partners in the field, at the support center, and in our plants. Through her actions, Lucy demonstrates our values of compassion and empathy as well as accountability and excellence in delivering results. Please join me in congratulating Lucy on her new assignment.

The search for Lucy’s long-term backfill in Law & Corporate Affairs (L&CA), is already underway. As we seek the right candidate to lead the organization continuing Lucy’s legacy of unparalleled client service, Lucy and I have selected Paul Mutty, senior vice president & deputy general counsel, to serve as the interim leader for L&CA.

As my Starbucks journey continues, my personal commitment is to stay true to Our Mission, Values and guiding principles. Today, I encourage you to keep using your voice to help me, your market leaders, Lucy, her PRO team, and the entire SLT better understand your needs. I promise that we will keep listening as we work to elevate the company’s legacy of serving one another.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the months ahead as I tour various markets. As always, please continue to share your ideas, concerns, and stories with me and others on the senior leadership team.  You can also always email me. 

Proud to be your partner,


Employee Management, News, Starbucks