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(Photo by Brad Johnsen)
(Photo by Brad Johnsen)

As part of her role as Senior Vice President of PartnerResources (the coffee giant’s version of HR), Adrienne Gemperle leads the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. In partnership with Arizona State University, Starbucks provides financial support to help U.S. employees earn bachelors degrees.

“Like growing the best coffee, our partners need an environment where they can thrive,” she said, referring to employees as partners, in Starbucks’ fashion.

Gemperle implemented the College Achievement Plan. In a previous role she helped integrate the Teavana brand into the Starbucks business. In her current position, Gemperle manages employee resource support centers and other HR initiatives. She’s been with the company since 2005 in a number of leadership roles, including heading up Starbucks Global Staffing.

We caught up with Gemperle for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: Starbucks Support Center in Seattle WA.

Computer types: My hardware is a Dell laptop. For computers and devices — I need durability, and a natural job hazard is coffee spills.

Mobile devices: iPhone 6 and I just bought the iPad Pro. Functionality and design are both important to me.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: You’d expect me to say this, but I’m completely dependent on my Starbucks App. Every morning I use Mobile Order and Pay for my Americano. I then say hi to our partners at the hand off counter (no line!) to pick up my drink and head to work. 

Instagram is a constant watch. My Flywheel app and Netaporter (there’s always something in my bag). Houzz, I have an early 1900’s home and I’m always in search of my next project. I love on demand apps.

For work: Using Trello with my new iPad helps with communication and collaboration with my virtual team.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? Clean, bright, minimalistic with a large high table at the center. I have a lot of collaboration and conversations with people and set up my space to enable that easily. I have a large photo of a coffee plant filled with coffee cherries. It’s symbolic to the work I do: Like growing the best coffee, our partners need an environment where they can thrive.

(Photo by Brad Johnsen)
(Photo by Brad Johnsen)

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? One of my mentors shared a phrase that’s always stuck with me: The power of your yes can only be as strong as the power of your no. I’m purposeful about what I spend time on.


Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I use LinkedIn Recruiter a lot for work. Often, the profiles are more up to date and an easier read than a resume. In a recent trip to the China market, the local team got me hooked on WeChat, it’s amazing how the use of emoji’s helped bridge language and culture.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? My box is set up to help me prioritize. I don’t want my partners and customers waiting for info.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? This week is higher than usual because I’m talking with leadership candidates for a critical new role. 

How do you run meetings? The notion of effective meetings seems to be elusive…I do my best to make sure the purpose is clear. The reasons to meet are geared toward discussion, collaboration, alignment and because those in the room are needed to positively impact the outcome. I try to avoid status reporting and big presentation decks. 

Everyday work uniform? It starts with the shoes, which are usually MM6 Maison Margiela and a minimalistic neutral palate. The less pieces the better. A great coat is a “must have.” I live in Seattle.

 How do you make time for family? Family is first for me. There are a lot of ways to ensure I’m present in the right ways for mine. I travel a lot so I’m actually thankful my teenagers like to text so much. Facetime is great for those moments where I’m away and want to have a conversation or really share a laugh.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Flywheel keeps me healthy and sane. Family time is critical when I need to unplug. My favorite is gathering together at our Cannon Beach cabin. Whether it’s walking for miles on that pristine beach, or cooking together, this for me is relax, recharge time. And of course, there’s wine.

What are you listening to? Prince. I’m playing tribute now.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? TheSkimm, NYT, Huff Post, GeekWire, Starbucks Newsroom and The Espresso from The Economist.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Always a stack on the nightstand. Today, ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck and ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Antony Doerr. My new goal is to move on if I’m not compelled to keep picking the book up. I can always come back to it when the time is right. 

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? Early riser – I’m in the coffee business, after all.

Where do you get your best ideas? Primarily, in the morning when I have some quiet time before my family gets going. But because we’re all up pretty early, I’m also a big believer in creating moments of open space for thinking during work.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? There’s a long list of men and women I’m curious to learn more about. I follow woman entrepreneurs, and just read an article on Rosalia Mera. I‘d love to have a conversation with her about vision, tenacity and her leadership journey.

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