Former Starbucks Executive to Speak at Occidental
Howard Behar, founding president of Starbucks International and former president of Starbucks North America, will speak at Occidental College on Wednesday, February 22, on leadership and growing the world's most successful coffee chain.
The event, "People Over Profits: Principles of Personal Leadership," is free and open to the public.
Behar's career spans more than 50 years, all in consumer-oriented businesses in several industries. His tenure at Starbucks started in 1989, when the Seattle-based coffeehouse company had just 28 stores, all in the Northwest.
Behar initially helped expand the coffee chain across the United States as vice president of sales and operations. Then, as president of Starbucks' global division, he helped establish the coffee culture in places as diverse as Japan, Russia, and South Korea. He returned to head Starbucks North America as president and served as a company director until 2008. Today, Starbucks has more than 17,000 locations on five continents and serves not just coffee, but meals, desserts, coffee accessories and, in some locations, beer and wine.
Part of Starbucks' success is based on the principle that people come before profits, said Behar, who received an honorary degree from Occidental in 2005. He elaborates on the people-centered approach to business in his 2007 book, It's Not About the Coffee: Leadership Lessons from a Life at Starbucks. He pointed out that contrary to common business jargon, people are not assets.
"You own assets. You don't own people," he states. "When any of us, from staff to managers to the CEO, think of ourselves and our colleagues as people-not workers or assets-we discover a wealth of knowledge and talent.
"When we allow ourselves and others to think creatively and make independent decisions based on common goals, we become more fulfilled and we make a more worthwhile contribution."
In demand as a speaker on corporate and personal leadership, Behar now serves on several for-profit and nonprofit boards, including Anna's Linens, EZ Grill, Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, and the University of Washington Foundation. He also sponsors a joint educational initiative with the University of Washington School of Social Work and Foster School of Business.
The February 22 lecture, "People Before Profits," will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the Mosher lecture hall on the Occidental campus, located at 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, 90041. Go here for information on maps, parking, and directions. Handicapped parking is available.