Forging a Career Path at Starbucks

Starbucks employs more than 150,000 store partners and regional leaders in the U.S. and Canada. In 2014, nearly 18,500 were promoted to new positions. How did they advance? Learn from three partners who share their Starbucks journeys and demonstrate the career possibilities within the company.

‘I saw the growth opportunity at Starbucks’

After touring around the world as a Bolivian Latin fusion musician, Javier Chacón decided to do something different by applying for a barista position at the Starbucks store not far from his home in Novato, California.

“I first became curious about joining Starbucks after Frappuccino® launched in 1995,” said Chacón. “I love coffee, so I decided to try the company.”

He was hired as a barista in 1997, and six months later was promoted to shift supervisor when his manager recognized he could handle the additional responsibility. Chacón supported his store partners and reached out to other stores in his district to help with operations and training.

“My leadership team noticed what I was doing in my store and area stores as well,” said Chacón. “They wanted me to take on a more advanced role and promoted me to assistant store manager.”

Chacón trained at different stores in Northern California, and was then promoted to store manager.

“I saw the growth opportunity at Starbucks and decided to actively pursue my career with the company,” said Chacón. “I connected with my district manager who helped me develop a plan for achieving this goal.”

Chacón became a district manager in 2004 and has served in this role for the past 11 years. He has opened countless Starbucks® stores and drive-thru locations and even managed two districts simultaneously for a short period. Chacón was also the regional lead for the Starbucks Coffee Master Program.

Chacón aspires to be a regional director, the next level in Starbucks retail operations. “Anything is possible,” said Chacón. “Starbucks has a lot of resources to help partners with their development. If you create and follow a plan, you can succeed with the company.”

‘Mentorship has been vital’

Laura Haraga began her Starbucks career as an assistant store manager in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1996. She moved up quickly and was promoted to store manager after six months. Haraga’s manager saw her potential and worked with her to create a personal development plan.

“I’ve always liked a challenge and the opportunity to explore new things,” said Haraga. “I figured I was up for exploring my path at Starbucks.”

Haraga was offered the opportunity to assist a new manager in a store nearby. After completing the assignment, she was promoted to store manager. She managed six stores, each time making the Starbucks store more successful than when she started.

“In order to be successful and move up, I’ve embraced challenges and adapted to Starbucks ever changing world,” she said.

Having a mentor as an advocate has also been important to Haraga’s success.

“Mentorship has been vital to challenge me and allow me to think about or consider things from a different perspective,” added Haraga.

Thinking differently and confronting unfamiliar situations for personal growth have long been a part of Haraga’s career journey.

“Being uncomfortable is important because otherwise you don’t learn,” Haraga continued. “Some people shy away from these moments, but I have always jumped right into them.”

In 2005, Haraga decided it was time to continue moving forward to a district manager position. Once again, she pulled together a development plan with the help of her manager. Haraga managed two stores simultaneously to demonstrate her talents and accepted a temporary district manager role to gain experience. Given her skills, that position became a permanent one after only three weeks.

Haraga has continued to take on temporary roles to build her knowledge. She has served as an interim regional director and is currently an interim regional manager in Canada. She has aspirations to be a full-time regional manager or director in the near future.

Throughout her career, Haraga has recognized the importance of staying focused and being very clear and intentional about what she wants in her career.

“You need to own your development,” said Haraga. “Sometimes people think that they don’t have the support of their manager when in reality, they haven’t been clear about what they want or need.”

‘Listen to the feedback you’re given’

Throughout his nearly 20-year career at Starbucks, Miguel Lozano has communicated his desire to move up in the organization.

“I knew the company had great potential when I started as a district manager,” said Lozano. “I had a desire to grow with Starbucks, but also had the support and advocacy of my leaders to help me in my journey.

Lozano’s ascent at Starbucks has been swift. After spending four years as a district manager, he was promoted to operations manager. One year later, he was promoted to a regional director. After another eighteen months, Lozano was offered a position as operations consultant to open the first Starbucks stores in Chile.

“You must have the aspiration to grow and make yourself available for uncomfortable positions sometimes,” Lozano said. “Chile was great for me. I learned a lot about working in a different environment and helping build the business there from the ground up.”

A year after returning from Chile, Lozano made the decision to leave Starbucks to learn about a different business. After only six months, he returned to Starbucks. “It didn’t take long to see that Starbucks was the best place for me and the ideal career environment,” he said.

Once Lozano resumed his position at Starbucks, he took on a developmental role as director of business systems with the IT department at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle. During his three years in the role, he spent time in London while helping deploy an inventory management system in the UK and Germany.

“Being flexible and relocating for new opportunities has been critical to my advancement,” said Lozano. “This has helped me attain different roles and also provided great experiences.”

Next for Lozano was a promotion to director of business operations. Six weeks later, he was named regional vice president in Florida. Today, Lozano serves in the same role, but in Los Angeles, not far from where he began his career at Starbucks.

“In my view, success comes from having the ambition to grow, the patience to do the heavy lifting required for growth, an ability to trust in your leaders, and willingness to listen to the feedback that you’re given.”

For opportunities with Starbucks, check out the Starbucks Career Center.

thumbnail for New, more sustainable Starbucks cold cups are made with up to 20 percent less plastic

New, more sustainable Starbucks cold cups are made with up to 20 percent less plastic