Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Leadership at Starbucks: An Extra-Hot Recipe for Growth

“Sylvia is here!” Everyone perked up as she came through the door and deliberately hugged them all. “Michael, how is your dog’s leg?” “Shana, how is your Mom doing?” “Oh my, Jennifer, she’s precious!” she said, caressing the face of a new-born infant. It felt like a church group meeting, maybe a fraternity, sorority, or family reunion or past exchange students who had traveled the world together. Alas, it’s a routine day at a Starbucks.

This routine of passion, purpose, and compassion has grown this company from approximately 4,500 stores in 2004 to 21,500 in 2014. Starbucks is 196 on the Fortune 500 list (up from 208 the previous year) and is 5 on the most admired list.

Traditional strategies of quality and innovation are certainly in the mix at Starbucks, but sitting around a coffee tasting for three hours with Sylvia Arbesu, Regional Director of Operations responsible for 86 stores with 6 employees joyously performing their duties around us, it is clear something different is afoot. Passion, compassion, and purpose are in the air and in the stories of this leader, with the company since 2012.

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