Rossann Williams, who heads Starbucks’ North American operations, will leave the company at the end of June, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The executive resigns despite the offer of another post. She will be replaced by 20-year veteran Sara Trilling, who currently leads the channel’s Asia-Pacific segment. Trilling will take over the North America segment starting June 21.
Williams joined the company in 2004 as regional vice president in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and has held several leadership positions, including vice president of operations for the EMEA region, senior divisional vice president, vice -Senior President of Global and US Operations Services, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Management and President of Starbucks Canada. Williams has served as President of Retail in the United States and Canada since March 2018.
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“Starbucks is a great company, family, belief system and light with a great future,” Williams said in a message to employees, seen by the Journal.
The executive has been one of the main respondents to the growing unionization effort in company-run stores. After the Buffalo sites decided to unionize in December, more than 100 other units across the country have done so in the past six months.
Trilling came to Starbucks in January 2002 as Concept Design Manager. Over the next few years, she rose through the ranks and became Senior Vice President of Food Category and Innovation in October 2016. She started her current role in Asia Pacific in April 2018.
“She touched almost every aspect of our business,” COO John Culver told employees, according to the Journal. “I am confident that she will bring her wealth of experience and proven service leadership approach to advancing the transformation of our business in the United States.”
Williams’ departure is the latest upheaval among Starbucks executives. In March, the coffee chain revealed that CEO Kevin Johnson was retiring in April and that founder and former executive Howard Schultz would return as interim CEO. He previously served as CEO from 2008-2017 and 1985-2000 and Chairman from 2008-2015 and 1985-1994.
Since Schultz’s arrival, he has brought back former communications chief Vivek Varma and former chairman Cliff Burrows into advisory roles. Additionally, Starbucks’ general counsel left the company on day two of the interim tenure, the Journal reported, and Schultz hired Frank Britt, former CEO of for-profit online college Penn Foster, as its new director. of the company’s strategy. The director of human resources, executive vice president of public affairs and senior vice president of public policy reportedly left the company in May.
The new CEO, who is expected to be named in the fall, will come from outside the organization, Schultz said. He will remain as interim leader until the end of the calendar year to ensure a smooth transition.
“For the future of the business, we need an area of experience and expertise in a number of disciplines that we currently don’t have,” the interim CEO said, according to the Journal. “It requires a different kind of leader.”