Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson - Who is He?

28/10/2018 08:00 | Franchise CEO

starbucks ceo

When longtime Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, stepped down from helming the company he turned into a global powerhouse and handed the reins to Kevin Johnson, business analysts held their breath and waited to see what would happen. They neednt have worried. Having demonstrated his management abilities on more occasions than most business leaders could dream of, he was the ideal candidate to lead the coffee giant forwards. To give you a glimpse of who Kevin Johnson really is, we drafted this brief profile detailing his work at Starbucks and beyond.

>> Read more about our CEO definition.

Personal life

Born October 9th, 1960, Kevin Johnson grew up in Los Alamos and attended New Mexico State University. He graduated with a bachelors degree in business administration and now lives in the state of Washington. Johnson counts basketball coach John Wooden and previous Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, as two of the individuals who most inspired him.

Johnson has spoken candidly about the way a skin cancer scare made him re-evaluate his priorities and the way he lived his life. Allowing professional commitments to take a back seat, while he saw to health concerns, gave him time to consider the way in which he would like to spend the rest of his days and what he wanted from his personal and professional life. It has had a drastic impact on the way he operates and how he approaches his job at Starbucks.

Professional history

Johnson's early career included work at a number of the world's most prestigious tech companies. An initial stint at IBM as a software developer was followed by a job at Microsoft that went on to last 16 years. Eventually, he was made vice president of the company's worldwide sales, marketing and services division. In 2006, he was named the president of the Windows and Online services division.

Johnson left Microsoft in 2008 and went on to join Juniper Networks. This position lasted a total of four years. In December 2016, it was announced that Johnson would become the next president and CEO of Starbucks Corporation. The following April, he succeeded previous CEO Howard Schultz and took control of the worlds largest coffee chain.

Other interests

Johnson has also maintained a number of roles alongside his position at Starbucks. For instance, he served as a member of the Western Region Board of Advisors for Catalyst, a non-profit that advocates for an inclusive workspace for all women.

He was also appointed to National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) by President Bush and has worked closely with Youth Eastside Services, an organisation that provides youth counselling services in his home state of Washington.

Starbucks UK CEO

In the UK, the coffee market has developed into one of the largest in Europe. However, Starbucks currently trails Costa in the fight for market dominance and is unlikely to overtake its rival anytime soon. Starbucks has less than half the number of the stores than its main competitor and can only manage a 25% market share.

However, with the UK market reaching saturation point, its unlikely that Starbucks will be overly concerned with increasing growth in the UK particularly as it has its eyes set firmly on more lucrative markets in the far east.

Starbucks CEO salary

In the year following Johnsons assumption of the position of CEO, it was revealed that he was paid approximately $11.5 million in total. This was broken down as; $5.91 million in restricted stock, $3.92 million in stock options, and a $1.15 million salary, as well as a $470,000 bonus. This bonus came in under the anticipated amount due to the failure to meet operating income targets.

When compared to CEOs at many other global brands, this is a relatively modest figure. However, Johnson's earnings will likely have been suppressed by the slower than expected growth experienced in 2017. Johnson has been brought in as a transformational CEO and is expected to re-orientate Starbucks and set them back on the path to impressive domestic and international growth.

Priorities at Starbucks

Johnson faces some issues at Starbucks. First and foremost, the company's mobile ordering technology is seen as absolutely essential to the business' development and its emergence as a modern retailer. Over the last year, the system has been struck by considerable difficulties and shareholders and analysts are concerned that this may have a significant and detrimental effect on the brand's reputation.

Johnson has also announced a plan to spend more than $250 million on employee benefits and to introduce new employee rights. These will include paid parental leave for the vast majority of its hourly workers, as well as paid sick days, too. Finally, the company has recently announced wage increases for 150,000 of its employees, most of whom are at the lower end of the wage scale.

Johnson has also expressed a desire to see Starbucks become more data-driven. By this, he argues, the company must grow more efficient at allocating resources and be more focused and agile when innovating.

Future of Starbucks

Johnson has made it clear that Starbuck's fate is heavily intertwined with that of China's. Currently, the coffee giant is building a new store in China every 15 minutes. This enormous market has been identified as one of Starbuck's top three strategic priorities, and Chinese consumers are driving significant changes in the way Starbucks traditionally does business. For instance, when compared to their western counterparts, far more Chinese customers pay for their order digitally.

Other types of new technologies are also being considered. Johnson has gone on record as saying that Starbucks wants to be at the forefront of the revolution in retail technology and that existing partnerships are likely to see AI applications integrated into stores relatively soon. With the goal of opening 600 new stores in China every year, for the next five years, it's clear that Starbucks will place the Chinese market high on their list of business priorities.

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