By the book: Fellow students, partners Charlene and Emily inspire each other

During Women’s History Month, we asked women to tell us who inspires them – their friends and family, mentors and heroes. Starbucks store manager Charlene Galloway and her shift supervisor, Emily Matus, have learned from – and leaned on – each other in five years together at their Miami store. We’re sharing their story and hope it encourages you to think about the remarkable women who inspire you.

Miami store manager Charlene Galloway still has photos from the grand opening of her store five years ago, and the first time she met Emily Matus. She sees the crowded store full of friends and family, the balloons and the anticipation and excitement in the faces of the partners.

“Here is Emily going around with a tray of little Frappuccino samples,” she said, looking at one of the photos. Matus was a part-time barista, a college student at the nearby Florida International University who Galloway observed was “very quiet, very shy.”

Matus, 23, remembers that day too. “You’re nervous and stressed, starting somewhere new,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how the environment would be.”

But Galloway saw a potential in her new partner that even Matus herself didn’t yet recognize.

“I never saw myself as being anything other than a barista at Starbucks when I first started,” Matus said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to handle that kind of responsibility in leading others. Charlene believed in me, and she knew I could do it.”

Mentoring partners been a passion for Galloway, 51, since she started in the assistant store manager program in 2001. She has helped 22 store partners become store managers in her more than 18 years at Starbucks, and offered career and life advice to encourage countless others discover their next chapter. She sprinkles life lessons in between lattes, reassuring partners that “not all bad things are all bad” and that obstacles can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Matus has experienced it firsthand. “Charlene’s always concerned about us, always makes an effort to sit down and talk with us,” she said. “Whenever she sees us struggling, she always tries to help us out. We think of her like our second mother.”

Galloway also relates to her partners in another way – as a fellow student. She is earning her final credits for her bachelor’s degree in organizational management with a minor in nutrition from Arizona State University through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. “I try to get my partners to understand that school is important and work is important but so is life,” she said.

She’s a living example to partners of how to juggle work and school, said Matus, who is now earning her master’s degree in business administration management from Florida International University. “She relates with us because she understands all the schoolwork and the amount of time we need to dedicate to it,” Matus said, adding that Galloway can never study too close to the store. “She has too many friends who are customers, she would never get any work done!”

During the time they’ve worked together, Galloway said she’s seen Matus, who has been promoted to shift supervisor, grow to become a valued leader on the team.

“You have that sense of comfort, knowing everything is OK if Emily's on the floor,” Galloway said. “She will always find the answer to any problem and make any situation as right as possible.”

That kind of encouragement and belief in her helped Matus change how she saw herself and thought about her future, she said.

“I didn’t see myself in the management field before,” Matus said. “But working with Charlene, she’s inspired me to become a manager. I feel like I have followed in her footsteps.”

And for Galloway, it’s part of what makes her work so worthwhile.

“I love to watch partners grow,” she said. “To see them make something out of their lives and go somewhere.”

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5 things to know about first-ever Starbucks Promises Day