Starbucks Hires Ex-McDonald’s Exec to Improve Mobile App, Drive-Thrus

Starbucks, mobile app, drive thru, CTO

Starbucks is now working with ex-McDonald’s executive Deb Hall Lefevre to oversee its technology, with Reuters writing Friday (April 22) that this would help CEO Howard Schultz look into changes to drive-thru, mobile orders and other things.

Lefevre will become Starbucks’ chief technology officer (CTO) as of May 2, taking over for Hans Melotte, who was the interim CTO for the last five months.

Per the report, changes will likely include increased mobile app personalization, employee training improvements and scheduling and equipment maintenance to give baristas more time to spend with customers.

By hiring a CTO who has worked in restaurants and retail, the company hopes to make sure digital transactions can run more smoothly. That had become more important during the pandemic as there has been more focus on mobile apps and digital pay.

According to Chas Hermann, a consultant and former vice president of marketing at Starbucks, Schultz wants to hire someone “that can really run the engine in the car.”

“But the driver in the seat will be Howard,” Hermann added.

Schultz has now returned for the third time as CEO. He’s reportedly planning an overhaul that includes employee benefits, which may help curb union organizing efforts at the coffee giant. That has come partly from baristas burning out from the large amounts of mobile orders in the past few years.

Reuters wrote that Schultz has also freed up possibly billions for investments through suspending share buybacks, and when the company reports its next earnings, investors will see if it has cut its guidance and offset rising costs.

PYMNTS wrote that Starbucks has been seeing more stores unionizing, which led the coffee giant to hire Frank Britt as chief strategy officer in early April, according to Schultz.

Read more: As More Baristas Unionize, Starbucks Hires Worker-Relations Specialist to Be Strategy Chief

Before moving to Starbucks, Britt was the CEO of Penn Foster workforce development organization. In the past, he’s worked on things like “empowering frontline employees to unlock their full potential,” Schultz said in a memo.

Schultz said Britt’s hiring would be considered an “investment in Starbucks’ long-term evolution.”