Starbucks VP Knows the Power of a Person-First Approach
Linh Peters, ’05 MBA, is just hitting the one-year mark of her newest role: vice president of brand marketing at Starbucks.
Her career trajectory began at the University of Minnesota with an advertising and public relations undergraduate degree. After a few years in the workforce, she returned to the Carlson School to pursue her MBA with an emphasis on marketing and strategy.
“Most of public relations is in the execution,” explains Peters. “I wanted to get further upstream to define a strategy really focused on the consumer space.”
The consumer truly was at the center of Peters’ early marketing career. At Best Buy, Target, and Ulta Beauty, she developed, managed, and grew their respective loyalty programs. “The things I learned working in loyalty—really understanding the customer—helped me in a lot of ways to expand my overall experience,” Peters says.
Peters’ person-first approach is more than just a marketing philosophy; it’s a business practice that starts with her own employees: “I’m extremely passionate about developing, coaching, and building my team,” she says.
Peters credits the Carlson School’s core team model as a collaboration and teambuilding training ground for her. As part of a core team of four to five classmates, Peters says she learned real-world skills for effectively working as part of a diverse team to accomplish projects. “It taught me a lot in terms of understanding the importance of being collaborative; understanding people’s points of views, how they operate, what’s important to them,” she says.
Since finishing her MBA, Peters has worked at no fewer than five Fortune 500 companies and lived in Michigan, Illinois, and Washington, giving her fresh perspective on what makes Minnesota unique. She identified two pillars that have been central to her career: community and collaboration.
“A lot of [collaboration] starts at the top in terms of Minnesota’s government and how the state and cities are run. There is a sensibility and a willingness to partner and collaborate here. There isn’t a sense of divisiveness,” she says.
“The Twin Cities aren’t as transient as some of the cities where I’ve lived,” says Peters, “so there is more of a sense of community that translates into all aspects of life, whether it’s work or personal.”