Starbucks announced Tuesday that Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer would be leaving at the end of February for a CEO position at an undisclosed publicly traded company.
Brewer joined the coffee chain’s board in 2017 and became its chief operating officer later that year after serving as CEO of Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart. She was the first Black woman to be COO of Starbucks and to head a division at the big-box retailer. Prior to her time at Walmart, she worked for consumer packaged goods giant Kimberly-Clark.
In her current role, Brewer deals with a wide range of responsibilities, from technology initiatives to the creation of new coffee drinks. She was widely expected to be the successor to current CEO Kevin Johnson. After she leaves, those responsibilities will be split up among CMO Brady Brewer and Rossann Williams, who serves as president of company-operated locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Brewer also sits on the board of Amazon and is chairwoman of Spelman College’s board of trustees. Previously, she was a director at Lockheed Martin and Molson Coors Beverage.
Brewer’s departure comes as investors, regulators and activists push for more diversity in Corporate America. Nasdaq has proposed changes that would push for greater racial and gender diversity on the boards of publicly traded companies listed on its exchange.
Starbucks said that Brewer’s next position will be announced “in the near future.” As of Tuesday, no Black women are the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
The company has also recently announced the retirement of its CFO Pat Grismer. He will be replaced by Rachel Ruggeri, who serves as senior vice president of finance for the Americas division, starting Feb. 1.
Shares of Starbucks fell 1.6% in extended trading on Tuesday after the chain reported its fiscal first-quarter results. It beat analyst estimates for its earnings, but its sales recovery in the U.S. faltered as Covid-19 cases increased during the quarter.