Starbucks North American business head is set to leave the firm as interim CEO Howard Schultz restructures the company’s executive positions.

Rossann Williams has been one of the coffee giant’s main faces in reacting to an escalating unionization campaign among baristas over the last year.

Starbucks stated that she was given another position within the firm, but she chose to depart on her own.


Sara Trilling, the chain’s Asia Pacific head, will assume the role from June 21.

Ms. Williams, who joined Starbucks in 2004 as a regional vice president and worked her way up to the executive vice president, has been with the firm for almost 17 years.

COO John Culver commented about Ms. Williams’ departure: “The decision was not taken lightly.”

Ms. Williams did not reply immediately to requests for comment.

Ms. Williams thanked Starbucks employees in a message for their efforts during a tough time and for confronting what she called the company’s status quo.

“Starbucks is a company, a family, a belief system, and a tremendous light with a great future.” 

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Mr. Schultz has shifted Starbucks’ top ranks since his return in April, stating in an interview last month that he is looking for new talent that the firm does not already have.

Starbucks said last month its top human resources officer, executive vice president of public affairs, and senior vice president of public policy would all be resigning in May.

Starbucks’ general counsel left the company in April.

Starbucks is currently considering external candidates for its future CEO and expects to find a new leader by the autumn.

Ms. Williams had spent weeks last year talking to employees in the Buffalo, New York region about unionizing.

Starbucks’ management has asked staff to retain direct contact with the firm rather than organize unions to seek better compensation and benefits.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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