5 Questions With Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer

The GenHERation® “5 Questions With” Series features our exclusive interviews with the most powerful women in the world to provide you with actionable advice on how to navigate your career path.

Rosalind Brewer is the COO of Starbucks. 

1) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you graduated from college?

  • Unlike school, there is no clear path to success (and I’m responsible for paving my own way).
  • Influence isn’t about me or my title; it’s about enabling others to trust me and what I say/do.
  • Finding my voice can ironically mean knowing when to be quiet. 

2) Which college class best prepared you for your professional career?

Organic chemistry. I earned my degree in chemistry, and it’s the best part of the whole field because of the sheer amount of application it has in the industry. It honed my analytical skills and led to a long and successful career at Kimberly Clark.

3) What is the go-to question you ask interview candidates?

  • What do you value most about our culture and mission?
  • What have you failed at?
  • Who or what has shaped you?
  • What gets you up in the morning?

4) What is the biggest risk you have taken?

Moving nearly 1,000 miles away from my family and hometown of Detroit to attend school at Spelman. I am the only one of my five siblings that left the state of Michigan for college.

5) What is your genius?

EQ and the ability to balance it effectively with IQ (emotional and intelligence quotient). You can have the best pedigree (the best education from the most elite school) and a brilliant, analytical mind, but EQ is the one skill that distinguishes an average manager from an effective leader.

You can learn from more of the most powerful women in the world here.

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