What’s Supply Chain like at Starbucks?

Foster MSCM students take a 3-credit course, the Supply Chain Leader Series (SCM 599) that connects them with supply chain leaders through seminars. The course is designed to complement our students’ in-class learnings with current events and best practices of the field.   

A recent seminar was led by Foster alum, Margo Huang, who works at Starbucks as a Senior Sourcing Manager for I.T. Margo has been with Starbucks for 10 years, starting off as a barista during graduate school at UW.  

“The key thing about the Supply Chain job market that I’ve learned from being at Starbucks is network, network, network,” shared Margo. 

Margo’s steppingstone into corporate Starbucks was a lunch with the then VP of Sourcing, who offered her a position in the Beverage Ingredients team. A few internal transitions later, she is now part of the Technology Sourcing team, which deals with indirect sourcing. 

Small Supply Chain Projects for a Globally Consistent Customer Experience 

Evolving customer lifestyle has prompted Starbucks to evolve its company values and processes. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about an increase in drive-thru traffic and the need for more pick-up options. Moreover, people are choosing iced beverages over hot ones now more than ever. And how can we forget the transition toward sustainability?  

All of this requires adaptations, which have huge supply chain impacts.   

New equipment such as more powerful ice machines and refrigerators at every store, are needed to support customer demands of iced beverages. New machines and training must be put in place globally to ensure faster movement in drive-thru lanes. And new strategies are required to strive for reduced carbon and water waste.  

Several teams at Starbucks collaborate to make all this happen. Equipment and product testing happens every now and then before global launches as the popularity of Starbucks leaves little room for public failure.  

Supply Chain is at the Core 

In addition to being innovative with their products, Starbucks has to deal with the large-scale sourcing and distribution of equipment, ingredients as well as training. Right in the middle of all this is an efficient supply chain. 

Each quarter, supply chain leaders like Margo visit our classrooms to share their insightful industry experiences with our students. SCM 599, through its seminars and projects, exposes Foster MSCM students to the practical implications of the skills they are gaining in class.  

Learn more about the Foster MSCM curriculum and how it can prepare you to become part of the future of supply chain.

Written by Niv Joshi
Writer & Content Strategist
[email protected]