Howard Behar Visits Manila


Last February 8, Asia Society in partnership with Rustan Coffee Corporation hosted a talk featuring former President of Starbucks International, Mr. Howard Behar, who spoke to 250 business professionals and students at the AIM Conference Center. He discussed the leadership and business principles featured in his book, “It’s Not About the Coffee” and how it led to the global success of Starbucks.

Howard Behar's career in business spans over 50 years, all in consumer oriented businesses covering several industries. He retired from Starbucks Coffee after 21 years where he led both the domestic business as President of North America, and was the founding President of Starbucks International.  During his tenure, he participated in the growth of the company from only 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents.  He served on the Starbucks Board of Directors for twelve years before retiring.


“To nurture and inspire the human spirit everyday, beginning with myself first, then with others” was Mr. Behar’s life mission. It’s important to fully understand who you are as a person, what your values are and what direction you want to take your life in order to be able to gain success. Mr. Behar stressed the importance of upholding one’s values when being a leader. Whether you are a businessman, son, father or husband, one must live his life with the values he upholds. He defined leadership as “serving other people” – you must determine your values and transform these values into concrete actions that help other people. His people-centered approach as the former president of Starbucks International was integral to its success. When Mr. Behar made the decision to expand in the Philippines over a decade ago, the 3rd market in Asia that they entered, it was highly doubted. “I didn’t choose the Philippines because of the Philippines. I choose the Philippines because of the people,” explained Behar on making the decision of expanding in the Philippines, only the 3rd market in Asia they entered over a decade ago. Today, his decision has proven successful with over 190 branches nationwide.


Howard now serves on several Boards including for-profit and non-profit organizations.  They include Anna'a Linens, Sterling Savings Bank, Wild  Ginger Restaurants, EZ Grill, Inc. and the advisory board of Anthos Capital. His non-profit commitments are to the University of Washington Foundation, The Robert Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and the Washington Business Alliance.  


He lives in Mercer Island, Washington, with his wife Lynn, and enjoys spending time with his children and his six grandchildren.  Boating is his favourite hobby, exploring the waterways from Seattle to Alaska.

Media sponsors of the event include WheninManila, TALKtv, Philippine Star, ABS-CBN Channel and Manila Times.