5 Questions with Cecilia Carter
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Global Diversity, Community and Civic Affairs
"Having mentors of both genders is important for a well-rounded
Cecilia Carter is responsible
for the strategy and management of Starbuck’s diversity, community and
government affairs and philanthropy functions. She also serves as general
manager of the Starbucks Foundation. Previously, Carter was head
of community affairs at UBS, one of the world's leading wealth management
firms. She served as director of public relations
at Burson-Marsteller and has also held communications and marketing roles at General Electric, Saatchi & Saatchi and American
Express. Carter is active in community affairs, including the Rhythm & Blues
Foundation, the Urban League and the University of
New Haven. She holds a master of management degree from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a doctorate in human letters from the University
of New Haven.
Why is being a diverse company to
work for and do business with a business imperative for Starbucks?
Starbucks has taken an innovate
approach to building a diverse culture and brand by integrating the diversity,
community and government affairs functions. This allows us to move from
compliance-focused, traditional diversity strategies and programs to creating a
sustainable path to be a global employer of choice. We operate in more than 50
countries around the world with 126,000 employees, whom we call partners, and
17,000 stores. The ability to operate across the globe in these diverse
communities requires an understanding of markets, cultures and local community
needs. Creating a culture of social relevance and a workforce that reflects the
communities where we do business are key goals.
How has Starbucks worked to make
itself an employer of choice for women?
The career opportunities and
programs we have in place for all of our partners provide a strong foundation
for skill development and flexibility. We understand the needs of our partners
and develop benefits to meet these needs. We offer flexible work hours; tuition
reimbursement; Bean Stock, a way for partners to share in the financial success
of the company; and health benefits for part-time employees. When combined with
the retail skills obtained from our barista training program or managerial
skills from working in our stores, working for Starbucks is an extremely
attractive opportunity for career-focused women of all backgrounds. However, it
is the Starbucks culture that differentiates us as an employer of choice. I have
one of the best jobs in the world! I have launched three new community
programs, led the integration of a new department and learned to whip up a
pretty good latte all in one year. It is a fast-paced, highly creative environment
where partners truly care about each other. We treat each other with respect
and we are true to our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit one
person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.
What are some of the biggest
opportunities you see at Starbucks for greater advancements toward being an
employer of choice for women?
Starbucks continues to focus on
partner and community needs. It is embedded in our global growth agenda, which
focuses on building the business by increasing our channels to market, digital
outreach and global expansion. Annie Young-Scrivner, chief marketing officer and
president of Tazo, and Michelle Gass, president of Starbucks Coffee EMEA, two of our
most senior women, are leaders in the development and execution of our growth
plans. Working jointly with Howard Schultz, our CEO, they help expand and build
awareness both internally and externally of Starbucks as a diverse company for
women to enjoy a career and experience leadership opportunities. Support at
this level is one of the many reasons I believe we will continue to see a
demand for Starbucks employment.
How effective has networking been
to you as a career-advancement tool?
You often hear people say it is not
what you know, but who you know. There is definitely a lot of truth in that.
Networking is a critical tool for succeeding in today’s competitive environment.
It is a skill that should be honed over time. It has been extremely important
in building my career. But more importantly, the time to craft your networking
skills is not when you are seeking a new job or career change. You should begin
building your "network” resume with the colleagues and people you interact with
every day. Get to know people through activities and organizations that you are
passionate about so that they can learn about your style and effectiveness. For
networking to be a good career-advancement tool, it must always be combined
with the ability to deliver on your goals.
Who have been some of your own
mentors and role models as you've built your career?
I have had several mentors
throughout my life, both personal and professional. I make the distinction
because some of the best mentors have been my closest friends. They are the
people able to deliver a tough message when you need one. When I graduated from
Kellogg School of Management, one of the first women to mentor me was Lenora
Cartright, who was Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne’s commissioner of human services.
She taught me the importance of serving on boards, engaging in the community
and understanding my role relative to helping others. I have never forgotten
these lessons. Having mentors of both genders is important for a well-rounded
perspective. Today I am fortunate to have mentors such as Ann Fudge, retired
CEO of Young & Rubicam, and Terry Stewart, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame. I met them through my positions at work and in the community and developed
these relationships over several years. I enjoy not only the mentoring aspects,
but the sharing of friendship and support.