Starbucks COO Roz Brewer inspires AWESOME and Aspen Audiences

June 28, 20192 minute read

Roz Brewer, COO of Starbucks, was interviewed recently at the Aspen Ideas Festival attended by AWESOME founder Ann Drake. She also participated in an Up-Close Interview at the 2019 AWESOME Symposium in May, for which Starbucks was Host Sponsor.

Roz’s story is inspiring because she grew up in Detroit, was the first person in her family to go to college, went on to become the president of one of Kimberly-Clark’s global sectors, the first woman to be CEO of a division of Walmart, and now the first woman to be COO of Starbucks.

At the AWESOME Symposium Roz was interviewed by Deb DeHaas, who recently completed a six-year term as Chief Inclusion Officer for Deloitte. Roz talked about how her background in science has stayed with her through the years. She was a chemistry/biology major at the technical vocational high school she attended and a chemistry major in college. She said, “The technical piece definitely helped me every step of the way. It still helps me today as I have to problem solve, set objectives, and figure it out.”

When asked what can be done to help women overcome bias in today’s corporate culture, she said she was happy to see places such as the Symposium where “you can come and be your whole, authentic self with people who embark upon some of the same tasks and hurdles.”

She continued, “I think it’s going to take more of the majority leaders reaching back and putting women in the right spots and giving them the difficult tasks. No more should it be said about women ‘we’re going to take a bet’ or ‘let me try this out.’ It’s not a bet, it’s not a try. I’m looking for the day when people say, ‘You’ve earned this next opportunity and congratulations!’”

At both the Symposium and the Aspen Ideas Fest, Roz was asked about the time she attended a small by-invitation event for CEOs and one of the other guests, a male CEO, found it hard to believe she was a CEO, too. Watch Roz tell the story.

The Aspen Ideas Fest is a gathering of leaders from around the globe organized by the Aspen Institute in partnership with The Atlantic. Participants present and discuss the ideas and issues that both shape today’s world and challenge our times.