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06/21/2022

Report: High-level Starbucks executive resigns

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A top Starbucks North American executive is leaving.

A 17-year Starbucks veteran is reportedly calling it quits.

According to the Associated Press, Starbucks North America president Rossann Williams has decided to exit the company. Starbucks COO reportedly sent a letter to employees saying Williams, who has been with Starbucks for 17 years, declined to take another position with the company.

Meanwhile, Sara Trilling, a 20-year Starbucks veteran who had been serving as senior VP and president of Starbucks Asia Pacific, has been promoted to the position of executive VP and president of Starbucks North America.

Executive shakeup at Starbucks
Starbucks has recently been seeing some changes in top leadership. The Starbucks Corp. board of directors recently reached an agreement with Schultz that will see him remain as interim CEO through the first fiscal quarter of 2023. According to the coffee giant, this timeline provides it a runway for a seamless transition and continuity of leadership through the 2022 holiday season.

Schultz initially returned as interim CEO of Starbucks on April 4, 2022. On his first day back at the helm of the company he grew into a global coffee café giant, Schultz announced that Starbucks is suspending its stock buyback program — effective immediately — to invest back into operations, including employees and stores. (In March, Starbucks said that Schultz would return to the company as interim chief executive officer and a board director in the wake of the resignation of Kevin Johnson, effective April 4.)

Williams leaves as unions grow
According to the Associated Press, Williams has been an important figure in Starbucks’ push against a growing unionization effort at stores across the country. In a 2021 letter she sent to associates in response to successful efforts at unionization in a Buffalo store, Williams said Starbucks would rather directly deal with workers rather than collectively bargain with a union, but would work with Buffalo employees who voted to join a union.

Since then, employees at approximately 50 locations have voted to join a union. announced array of new employee benefits as it looks to deter a spreading union push. In response, the coffee giant is raising pay for its tenured workers and store managers. Employees with two to five years of service will receive at least a 5% increase or move to 5% above the market start rate, whichever is higher. Employees with five-plus years of service will receive at least a 7% increase or move to 10% above the market start rate, whichever is higher.

Also, on August 1, Starbucks will double its planned investments in store manager, assistant store manager and shift manager pay for leaders hired on or before May 2.  The company noted that the changes are one-time investments in base pay in addition to its planned fiscal year 2023 raises this fall.

The new round of pay hikes follow Starbucks’ announcement in October that it would raise wages at least twice in 2022, bringing its average pay to nearly $17 an hour nationally.

Beginning June 21, Starbucks is doubling the amount of training time for new store workers. It is doing the same for new shift supervisors beginning August 30, and also adding more training for workers and supervisors already in the role.

More new employee benefits will be announced in September, the company said, including help with student loan refinancing, additional skills recognition programs and new profit sharing initiatives. In total, Starbucks plans to spend $1 billion on wage hikes, improved training and store innovation during fiscal 2022, which ends in the fall for the chain.