Seattle: Starbucks and Brooks Sports

Today was the third day that the Loyola group went on a site visit. During our time we visited the companies Starbucks and Brooks Sports. Although our schedule was busy, the day seamlessly flew by. The morning excitement began right after taking advantage of the complimentary hotel breakfast as we prepared for an exciting trip. As we made our way to our first stop, Starbucks, we discussed the company and gathered our thoughts.

Starbucks originally opened in 1971, located in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. The company began its journey as a small store and has expanded into one of the most well-known brands around the world. Aside from focusing primarily on their coffee, Starbucks also has other items on their menu that resemble other coffee shops. They offer teas, pastries and other treats for their customers. When we arrived at the establishment Sharon Schwartz, a partner at Starbucks, and Sue Fox, a project manager, received us. She started the visit by giving us a tour of the entire Starbucks headquarters. The tour of Starbucks was highly fascinating due to the beautiful design and thought that was put into building it. Each floor had a slightly different feel than the next. We got to experience some of the spots that the Starbucks employees gather around to collaborate and socialize as well as locations that involved more workstations. There was coffee around every corner and wonderful coffee shops as well. After the tour we were introduced to a panel of employees, Jill Walker (VP & Controller), Josh Guenser (VP of Finance), Joy Das Gupta (Marketing), Carey Morgan (Global Staffing), and Keerthi Thiruvazhi (Digital Products) that explained their journey and their story.  It was inspiring to hear the employees and to learn from them. Many of them spoke of their different career paths and explained that life never turns out exactly how you plan it. It was especially reassuring for me, an Accounting major, to hear from Jill and Josh whom both focused their careers in accounting. They discussed how Starbucks has made it easy for employees to move around within the company and never get bored with their work, which I found to be intriguing that one company could bring satisfaction from different jobs.

After finishing up our visit with Starbucks, we made our way over to lunch at Blue Moon Burgers, a small burger joint. Although some Loyola students ate at Blue Moon Burgers, others went to other restaurants’ around the area. I indulged in a small restaurant called Ever Greens. The Sombrero Salad was delicious, just as every meal we have had in Seattle has been.

After lunch we headed towards our second visit of the day, Brooks Sports. Brooks Sports is a company that was first founded in 1914. The company’s main product is the running shoe along with their famous sports bra. Brooks Sports culture was different than Starbucks as it had a smaller amount of employees and it was interesting to compare and contrast the different sizes of the companies. Mike Billish, VP of Sales, was our main contact for the day. He gave us a presentation that would generally be given to new employees attending orientation and therefore supplied us with a great amount of information about the company. One of the things that Mike Billish said and resonated with me was when he discussed that the shoe Brooks Sports produces is only focused on high performance and not how aesthetically pleasing it is and how they will never change their strategy because their goal is to produce the highest performing running shoe. Ben Reuler also spoke during the presentation to give his insights on not for profit companies and his role at Seattle Works, a not for profit company. It was interesting to hear about the different things that we can contribute to in order to make our community a better place. A tour was given after the presentation and we got to take an inside look at the technology that produces and tests their advanced shoes. Brooks Sports made us realize that developing a shoe is a complicated process and has various components.

After the tour Mike and Riley (Sales Coordinator) took us over to the only brick-and-mortar Brooks Sports store We then walked over to a restaurant named Thackeray, where Brooks held a happy hour for us. We spent the next couple of hours getting to know some of the employees of Brooks Sports and found that they were extremely intriguing. They seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs and the company itself, which was nice to hear. After happy hour the group made its way to Pike Pub, a restaurant in Pike Place Market, where Dean Stevens graciously joined us as well. Dinner was our last stop on our agenda and was spent with amazing people. I am looking forward to the rest of our visits in Seattle, Washington, one of my new favorite cities in the country.


Josefa Abundes (BBA '18)