Starbucks: A Coffeehouse Full Of Opportunities

Mar 20, 2015 1 Min Read


Being more than just an employee

Starbucks is a widely loved food and beverage brand that delivers excellent coffee and a total customer experience. Starbucks Malaysia has emerged as Best of the Best Employer in Aon Hewitt Best Employers Malaysia 2015.

Celebrating its rich coffee tradition, Starbucks is bent on fulfilling its mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit, starting with one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

In a culture of endearment and camaraderie, every employee at Starbucks is known as a “partner”, not “employee” nor “staff”.

“Partner” means a person who takes part in an undertaking with others. In essence, this narrows the gap often felt in employer-employee relationships, thereby creating a sense of belonging at Starbucks as a team and family.

Sydney Quays, Starbucks Malaysia and Brunei managing director, only knows too well that Starbucks partners are their assets, taking pride in taking care of them and making them an integral part of the organisation.

Quays says:

“Starbucks groom talented partners with our outstanding and structured training and development programmes. Most of our store partners are food service professionals and college students, and what they all have in common is their passion for great coffee and friendly customer service, which ultimately helps them to bond as a family and build satisfying careers at Starbucks. The commitment of our partners is a major reason why Starbucks is recognised as the leading specialty coffee company and the industry benchmark in Malaysia.”


Set apart as the best above the rest

As an organisation that provides ample opportunities by encouraging its partners to be one’s best self, have an impact, connect with something bigger, make meaningful daily connections and be a lifelong partner, Starbucks strives to position itself to be a great employer.

On talent management, June Beh, Starbucks Malaysia and Brunei partner resources and compliance director acknowledges, “Retention starts from hiring the right talent; hence, we train our hiring managers to recruit candidates that have the desired attitude.

“We also highly invest in the training of every employee including part-timers, empowering them with the necessary skills and knowledge. We have formal and informal, planned and spontaneous, tangible and intangible recognition; focusing on acknowledging our partners’ desired behaviours, efforts and achievements.”

Starbucks’s four key focus areas as its best practices guidelines include (see Figure 1):

  1. Employer branding
    Objective: To strengthen retail and full-time workforce
    Starbucks Employee Value Proposition is aimed at retaining, engaging and motivating partners in exchange for their productivity and performance.

    Known as the “Starbucks Experience”, this includes extrinsic (rewards and benefits, opportunities for career development) and intrinsic elements (management style, work environment and culture).

    Through its Talent Attraction Channel, the organisation plans, attracts, selects, hires and provides great compensation and benefits.

  2. Partner development
    Objective: To build leadership-bench readiness
    After setting expectations, partners at Starbucks are empowered to chart their own career path and success. Learning and development programmes are readily provided to support them in their career growth.

    Starbucks strives to engage and inspire partners to achieve their personal best by engineering internal promotion opportunities. Such opportunities directly support their key business objective of store growth in Malaysia.

    The sustainability and continuity of Starbucks lie in the speed of knowledge distribution through their best practices sharing. This is further enabled by being actively connected with both their local and overseas Starbucks networks.

    With majority Gen-Y in the workforce, the recognition and reward system has evolved to become more personal and situational. This has proven to be the top motivator of employees’ performance.

    Starbucks also organises fun, relevant and engaging activities for partners all year round which include local and overseas leadership conferences in Asia-Pacific countries.

  3. Coffee and culture
    Objective: To ensure delivery of quality products and services through structured learning and development
    In cultivating a coffee culture at Starbucks, coffee knowledge is shared among all partners to empower them to become brand ambassadors. After all, the more they know about the product, the more confident they are in their roles and the more pride they have for the organisation.

    Starbucks provides the following two platforms to elevate partners’ coffee passion: Coffee Master Programme and Latte Art Programme.

    In ensuring partners appreciate the origins of their coffee, Starbucks has a unique programme called “The Origin Experience”, an immersive coffee education trip that allows their partners to experience firsthand coffee-growing origins from different parts of the world.

    Starbucks partners are empowered to own their actions and create “moments of connection” with customers to leave them greatly satisfied with their Starbucks encounters.

  4. Humanity and love
    Objective: To connect partners and help them in times of need
    The Starbucks Malaysia CUP Fund (CUP for Caring United Partners) was inspired and created on Jun 22, 2007.

    This programme empowers partners to help each other when experiencing significant hardship due to catastrophic circumstances, including natural disasters.

    All partners are eligible to apply for assistance. It is funded solely by partners’ monthly contributions and fundraising initiatives.

Figure 1 Winning hearts and minds


Building and restoring ‘bridges’

Highly regarded as a truly responsible organisation, Starbucks embodies a noble belief that businesses should leave a positive impact on the communities they serve and on the planet we live on.

As such, Starbucks is dedicated to walking the talk by focusing on two main areas: community and the environment.
Initiatives and agendas include:

  • For community
    • Community grants
    • Global Month of Service
    • MY Community
    • Connecting Communities
  • For environment
    • Recycling
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Green building
    • Climate change

Starbucks is also committed to ensuring ethical sourcing of its coffee, tea and cocoa to help create a better future for farmers who toil in the land to produce high quality yields.


Marking and making a difference

In 2013, Starbucks Malaysia launched Connecting Communities Project in Malaysia, a scalable community project that contributes to small villages that consist of local farming.

This project will not only encourages ethical sourcing but also opens a gateway opportunity to make an impact to the farmers’ family and their entire community.

Among the first rural communities to benefit from this project is Kampung Lubuk Jaya, a rural village allocated in the outskirts of Kuala Selangor.

Starbucks purchased raw bananas from the village and these bananas will be used to develop banana-based food products that are retailed at all Starbucks stores nationwide.

Lubuk Jaya project
Photo (above): The launch of the Community Computer Centre in Kampung Lubuk Jaya.

Fifteen per cent of the proceeds will then be channeled to building a Community Computer Centre for the children of the village.

In April 2014, Starbucks launched the Community Computer Centre in Kampung Lubuk Jaya after raising RM118,000 and connecting the children of the village to a lifetime of learning.

Related article: What Starbucks Partners Have To Say


For more company profiles from Aon Hewitt Best Employers Malaysia 2015, click here. To have your advertorials appear on our website, email us at to find out how.

Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 21 March 2015

Share This


Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

You May Also Like


How to Build Your SMS Marketing List: Tips and Best Practices

To make a good SMS list, you must incentivise your customers to use text to interact with your brand.

May 03, 2023 6 Min Read


Change and Disruption: Fight It or Embrace It?

Be prepared for change, make real change, adapt to change because change is a necessity.

Nov 14, 2019 9 Min Video

Be a Leader's Digest Reader