Discover the perfect blend

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

Jim Alling, president of Starbucks

Despite being president of Starbucks, Jim Alling spends as much time as he can with his three sons Zach, Brett and Nick.

'I used to teach my boys [at home] until I took up this position. I used to coach them soccer and basketball,' Mr Alling says.

'To me, words are important, but ... physically spending your time [supporting your words] says so much more.'

Knowing the advantages of spending time teaching and playing with his own children, Mr Alling has strong opinions on how young people should be helped.

One of the many projects he is involved in is Jumpstart, a non-profit group which helps prepare pre-school children for primary school.

'One thing I recognise is the importance of literacy. There is a very high correlation between children who can read by the time they enter first or second grade and the crime rates in the United States,' he says.

'So I personally felt it was something that I wanted to get involved in - increasing children's awareness. Jumpstart is one of the activities that I put in a lot of time and energy into.'

The caring father adds that he recognises many people don't have time to read to their children. Even though his sons can all read, Mr Alling - realising the value of the activity - still loves sitting down and reading to them.

'Just think: reading one-on-one to a child will not only make their day better, it will make their lives better,' he says.

'That's why I think it's nice to make a donation, but to me, it's much more impressive when you give up your time and yourself. When you give, you get so much more back.'

This fatherly attitude extends to the many Starbucks staff - or partners, as he calls them - he is responsible for.

Talking with the green-aproned staff, and seeing how they took pride in their jobs and how well they treated their customers - as well as his love for coffee - encouraged Mr Alling to join Starbucks 10 years ago.

His belief in the essential goodness of people was the catalyst for the reinstatement of a Starbucks tradition.

Many years ago, a worker in the United States stole money from his workplace and put it into a pocket of his apron. When he was found out, Starbucks removed the pockets from aprons.

But Mr Alling believes that they should recognise the good people, and weed out the bad elements without punishing the innocent. And so the pockets came back on.

'I have probably visited 3,000 Starbucks stores in my 10 years. They all have a slightly different personality - not because of the coffee or the design, but because of the people in green aprons and the customers,' says Mr Alling.

'It's a small thing to have the pockets back on the apron, but it's a statement that says we trust them.'


Graduated from DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and Spanish

Received a Masters of International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management

Before joining Starbucks, Mr Alling had a lengthy career with Nestle USA

At Nestle, he was vice-president and general manager of several divisions, including ground coffee

Joined Starbucks in 1997 as senior vice-president, grocery

Held a number of senior vice-president positions heading food service, licensing, marketing and North America store operations before he was promoted to president, Starbucks US in October 2004

Promoted to his current position as president, Starbucks Coffee International in September 2007

Currently serves on the board of directors for Jumpstart, a Boston-based non-profit organisation that allows college students to prepare pre-school children for primary school through literary development