Hanging up my green apron

Almost 5 years after joining the biggest coffee brand in the world, today I will be hanging up my Starbucks apron with utmost love and respect for the company where I was able to learn so much. At such a pivotal point in my career, Starbucks gave me a platform to grow, shine and make a difference and for that it will always hold a special place in my heart.

A different type of company

Before joining, I had read a lot about the mission and values of the company. It seemed a strange but in just my first few days in the business, I realised this was a different type of company. It doesn’t always get good press, nor the credit it deserves, but it’s a place where employees are referred to as partners, where you are encouraged to bring your true self to work, where the ethos of pursuing profit is not in conflict of the pursuit of good and in my experience that is a rare approach.

I always knew my next move had to be special; it had a lot to live up to. So as I go on to this exciting new chapter, now is an amazing chance to take with me the most important lessons I learnt as a Starbucks partner.

Happiness is working with great people

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some incredible partners, many of whom are now my closest friends, my biggest champions and my leadership mentors.

Being a team of one could feel quite lonely at times and nurturing relationships with others was essential for me to be able to succeed in my role. It helped that I was leading an area of the business that so many others were personally passionate about. People are absolutely at the heart of an effective sustainability programme and I was fortunate to have some amazing sustainability champions embedded in teams across different functions. Together we were able to achieve so much and I will always be proud of projects we landed, particularly, our efforts to source renewable power, implement cup recycling programmes, and our work in promoting reusable cup culture.

Comfort zone’s are great places. But nothing flourishes there

Joining Starbucks in a brand new role, with a vague job description and the opportunity to make the role my own was completely out of my comfort zone and that pretty much set the tone for my time in the company. Constantly being stretched and challenged in my role resulted in growth in my technical knowledge, leadership behaviours and belief in my abilities. With each opportunity I said yes to, came a new set of skills to have in my arsenal. Often there were times where others believed in me more than I did, I’ve now learnt to quieten down the whispering voices in my head and to seek out those uncomfortable, stretching opportunities as they are when I truly shine.

In the waves of change, we find our direction

Over the course of these past few years, I have experienced a multitude of changes both at work and at home.

Returning to work as a first time mum, coming back to a business that was going through a major restructure and navigating my way through changes in personnel and reporting lines had me travelling up and down the change curve, feeling like I was in a constant state of transition.

I learnt that my attitude to change determined my experience of it. Although at first I resisted it, I realised that by embracing it, I was able to address my fear of it being the worst thing and shifted my focus on it potentially being the best thing.

When I look back on my decade in energy and sustainability, I realise that it has always been amidst huge waves of change that I have found my north star. This recent change had me questioning where my personal and professional growth would be coming from and whether I was on the right path. Change is the one thing you can count on! We experience it in all facets of our life, you can’t always change what’s happened, but you can change how you deal with it.

Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people

Environmental sustainability is not something one person can achieve alone, it’s a mindset shift, a movement, a different way of thinking and being. My legacy at Starbucks will not be what I’ve told people, but hopefully how I’ve changed them. Sustainability is now embedded in functions and people across Starbucks and even without me there leading the efforts, it will live on!

You’ll know if it’s the right move

Moving company can be very daunting, especially when the company you are leaving behind has been so good to you. So how do you know if it’s the right move? Simple, ask yourself the following questions about the new role…

– Does the company excite you?

– Do the people inspire you?

– Will you learn and grow?

– Are their values aligned to yours?

– Does the remuneration package motivate you?

And if the answer is yes and you’re not massively compromising anywhere (like the commute) then, it’ll be a great move!

So I asked myself these exact questions and it was a resounding yes for each one.

I’m incredibly excited to be beginning my new adventure at WeWork as their Energy and Sustainability Director. I leave behind an amazing family, but I’ll take with me the unique Starbucks experience.

Thank you to all that have been a part of my journey. I am so proud to have been your partner.

Jaz

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