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Howard Schultz steps down from Starbucks’ Board of Directors

The move, described by Starbucks as part of a planned transition, also sees former Alibaba Group senior advisor Wei Zhang join its Board of Directors

Howard Schultz has been Starbucks CEO on three separate occasions | Photo credit: Starbucks


Starbucks has announced that founder and former CEO Howard Schultz has stepped down from its Board of Directors with immediate effective, as part of a planned transition. 

Schultz, who served as Starbucks CEO on three separate occasions, is credited with transforming Starbucks from a regional coffee and equipment seller to a global coffee chain, with more than 37,000 stores in 86 markets. 

“Howard’s vision, courage and deep love and responsibility for partners and this company created a blueprint for us all in how to lead through the lens of humanity. On behalf of the board, I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation to him as he steps down," said Mellody Hobson, independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair.  

Alongside being honoured by Starbucks with a lifelong Chairman Emeritus position, the coffee chain said Schultz will now turn his focus to a range of philanthropic and entrepreneurial investments. 

“I am enormously blessed to have experienced this journey from the ground floor at the company these many years. I look forward to supporting this next generation of leaders to steward Starbucks into the future as a customer, supporter and advocate in my role as chairman emeritus,” Schultz said.   

Seattle-based Starbucks also announced the election of Wei Zhang to its Board of Directors, effective 1 October 2023. Zhang has a decade of experience leading the international business and media strategy for Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, most recently as senior advisor and president of Alibaba Pictures Group.  

CEO Laxman Narasimhan cited Zhang’s global operations experience, consumer technology nous and background in corporate business development among her key attributes. 

Alongside Narasimhan, Hobson and Zhang, the Starbucks Board of Directors includes Richard Allison, Andy Campion, Beth Ford, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp and Satya Nadella. 

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