Michelle Gass '90 Helps Craft Starbuck’s New Strategic Direction, Wall Street Journal Says

March 19, 2008

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The March 18, 2008, issue of the Wall Street Journal carried a profile of Michelle Gass, a 1990 WPI chemical engineering graduate who is currently senior vice president of global strategy at Starbucks. The Journal credited Gass as one of the principal people behind the national coffee company’s new strategies for the future.

The article said Gass has been working closely with Howard Schultz to develop plans for reinvigorating the company since Schultz returned to Starbucks two months ago as CEO. “Ms. Gass has been Mr. Schultz's right−hand person in developing these ideas since Mr. Schultz retook the chief executive position at Starbucks in January,” the Journal noted. “Around that time, he handed Ms. Gass a piece of paper with some rough ideas and asked her to help shape them into a new agenda for Starbucks and its more than 15,000 locations.”

The article chronicles Gass’ “steady ascent” at Starbucks, beginning with her first position as marketing manager for the Frappuccino. Research by Gass led to the expansion of the Frappuccino line and to the growth of the beverage into one of Starbuck’s most popular products.

Gass, the article noted, was to be on hand on March 19 at the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting, at which the new strategies she and Schultz craft were to be unveiled.

WPI profiled Gass in its magazine, Transformations, in 2005. “I feel very proud to be associated with Starbucks,” she said in that article. “If I didn’t feel absolutely impassioned about my work, I wouldn’t be here.”