“I know I have the opportunity to grow and achieve my dream”: Meet 3 partners across Asia achieving their dreams with Starbucks

Every day, across the globe, our partners support the communities in our stores and the neighborhoods we are a part of. Our success at Starbucks is because of our partners (employees) and we are committed to supporting them as they achieve their dreams.
As we embark on the company’s next chapter together, we are sharing the inspiring stories of three partners from across Asia, showing how their Starbucks journey has helped them feel welcome, while enhancing their well-being and growth.

“It’s a place where people can really develop themselves”: Vennibell Jotiol, supervisor at the Penang Signing Store, Malaysia

In Malaysia, the Starbucks Penang Signing Store is an inclusive store format where partners have created a welcoming environment to engage, represent, and connect with the communities they serve. Through the partnership with the Penang Deaf Association, Starbucks offers professional training and development for both Deaf and hard of hearing partners and hearing partners to provide service to customers in Malaysian Sign Language.

Starbucks Malaysia partner Vennibell Jotiol started working there in November 2019, after learning about the development opportunities it created for Deaf and hard of Hearing people.

At the store, partners feel a sense of belonging. Vennibell says, “The local Deaf community has always been supportive. We routinely host gatherings for Penang Deaf Association Committee members to meet and interact.”

“Since I joined, I’ve progressed into a shift supervisor role, which is a big achievement for me,” Vennibell says. “At Starbucks, we learn a lot of things and are at the frontlines, where we serve customers and develop ourselves to the next level.”

When thinking about her long-term career at Starbucks, Vennibell shared her aspiration, “My goal is to become the first Deaf store manager. Starbucks has taught me so much and it’s a place where people can really develop themselves, I have the opportunity to grow and achieve my dream.”
“My favorite thing about my job is serving and meeting new people and being able to find ways to communicate with our customers, whether they are Deaf or not,” Vennibell says. “To be able to see how people are willing to adapt to your disability is very meaningful for me.”

Partners at the Penang Signing Store are encouraged to share and celebrate sign language culture with customers, while building deeper relationships within the community.

“What we’ve done together at our store is to actively teach our customers basic sign language and also how to sign their favorite beverages,” Vennibell says. “Most of our customers and colleagues are from the local Deaf community. They enjoy communicating with us and that has allowed us to get to know a lot of people from the Deaf community, who will also bring their Deaf and hearing friends from overseas to visit the store.”

“I’m really thankful for the closing shift. It means I can attend college during the day because of the flexibility working in the evening provides.” Mona Metri, shift supervisor at the Maker Maxity Mall Store, Mumbai

Mona Metri, an eight-year Tata Starbucks partner, believes that anything is possible with the right mindset, and refers to Starbucks as her second home. In India, it is essential for companies to provide the required conditions for women to work night shifts in India. Committed to provide an inclusive and supportive work environment, Starbucks launched The Women Transportation Program in October 2021, offering female partners who work late closing shifts a safe way to get home with a chauffeur-driven car with GPS tracking.

“Previously, only male partners worked closing shifts,” Mona, who currently leads the closing shift at the BKC Jio Drive Store, something made possible with the Women Transportation Program explains. “We used to worry about doing it alone, but once I had worked a late shift, I realized it was no big deal. You just have to focus and thoroughly understand the system. My family was invited to the store by the leadership team, who provided reassurance to partners and their families by addressing all of our concerns and questions.”

This program enables our female partners to make career choices that support their growth by offering them the flexibility and safety to choose shifts that meet their personal needs and career aspirations.

“I find my personal values align perfectly with my work,” Mona says. “I can attend college during the day because of the flexibility night shifts provide. My store’s management team is extremely helpful and adaptable.”

Mona has learned a lot in the role, including inventory management, checking for variances, and setting the store up for the next day. But she says the best part about working the closing shift is singing with her friends as they head home in a chauffeured car: “singing, cracking jokes, dancing, whatever it is – it all helps to build self-confidence. I’m really thankful for the exposure the closing shift provides. It’s a beautiful experience. I feel knowledgeable and empowered.”

“The best part for me was making true friends with my fellow partners”: Byung Yup Kim, assistant store manager at Starbucks Coffee Korea

In South Korea, partners are participating in the College Achievement Plan, which provides tuition support. To date, 228 partners have achieved four-year bachelor’s degrees from Hanyang Cyber University with more than 1,500 partners participated in the program . Last year, assistant store manager Byung Yup Kim graduated with honors and reflects on the experience of earning his degree while working as an assistant store manager.

“I had to take classes after work on the days when I had morning shifts, and on days I went to work in the afternoons, I had to take classes before going to work,” Byung Yup says. “Perhaps I could have been less stressed if I took it more lightheartedly. But I was eager to do it right, and as a result, I graduated with good grades.”

The university offers 35 majors online, and Byung Yup decided to major in English Studies after having studied conversational English at a language academy. The program allowed him the flexibility to balance his studies with his career at Starbucks.

“I think this degree is a kind of medal that I have received for studying at the same time as working,” he reflects. “And no matter what hardships come along my way in the future, I want to use this degree to remind me of how strong I was in the past, and to help me to move forward.”

Byung Yup’s time at the store was rich experience – he learned new skills and made life-long friends.

“It’s especially interesting to work together closely, such as in the bar area, and achieve something together,” he said. “It allowed me to build bonds to the point where I’d be able to really get to know other partners personally, their strengths and weaknesses, habits, preferences, and more.”

Now that Byung Yup has earned his degree, he has been thinking about new goals for himself, which include further studies and developing his skills and career growth as a manager.

Reinforcing Starbucks commitment to partners

Whether it’s building communities, providing partners with peace-of-mind or giving them the flexibility to pursue their ambitions, we are committed to elevating the partner experience.
To find out more about how Starbucks is creating meaningful opportunities to our partners visit: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/opportunity/

thumbnail for Oleato™ beverages available in more than 500 Starbucks stores across Japan on March 27

Oleato™ beverages available in more than 500 Starbucks stores across Japan on March 27