Starbucks isn’t new to the idea of trying to generate growth or broadening its brand appeal. That’s evident in the way it’s broadened the scope of the finance function by promoting Troy Alstead from CFO and chief administrative officer to CFO and group president of global business service — a promotion that comes at a time when CFOs’ geographic and operational responsibilities are evolving.
Alstead joined the company in 1992, when it was a privately held company with just over 100 stores, and became CFO and chief administrative officer five years ago. His promotion to CFO and group president of global business services will place him in charge of global technology and the global supply chain.
Alstead already has full teams in supply chain and technology in place. The chief information officer will report to Alstead. “He is the functional expert. What I can do with him and that team is work with them on how we impact the business and integrate that throughout the company,” elevating that within Starbucks, he told CFO.
Alstead has the same plans for working with the supply-chain team as a “knowledge source of how Starbucks operates,” he adds. “I can work with the leader of the supply chain — him and his team — and have a greater impact across the business.”
His long-term plans include a “disciplined but aggressive” expansion “into new geographies and channels while continuing to invest heavily in innovation.”
The “breadth of opportunity” afforded to him along with his new title will help him break out of the traditional scope often prescribed to CFOs, according to Alstead, who notes that Starbucks’ leadership has always viewed roles as fluid. “I’m more than a finance leader with them,” he says.
Although the traditional task of CFOs is to bring functional expertise to their companies, Alstead says CFOs also should be answering the question “How do I impact the business more broadly than that?”
In line with that goal, he has worked closely with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for Alstead’s more than 21 years with Starbucks. Schultz is “an inspirational and purpose-driven leader who never loses sight of the details and knows our business better than anyone, consistently leading through the lens of humanity while prioritizing our partners’ (and employees’) well-being is the best way to be successful at Starbucks,” he says.
Alstead hopes to change the perception that a CFO is someone who cuts and controls expenses and won’t fund useful projects. Instead, he says, the CFO should be focused on “supporting, enabling and driving growth through technology, through decision support, through the financial-analytical team,” he says.