Chris Carr '86

Executive VP and Chief Procurement Officer

Thursday, October 4, 2018TOPICS: AlumniLeadership

Chris Carr, USD alum and Executive VP at Starbucks
begin quoteChris was on his way to becoming a corporate leader long before he held the title of executive. Little did he know, that it would be the unique culmination of skills he gained on the court and in the classroom that would drive his corporate success.


Chris Carr '86 playing on the court in a USD vs SDSU basketball game

In basketball, the point guard is the selfless leader of the team—the player responsible for maximizing the talents of every person on the court, individually and collectively.

As point guard for the first USD Toreros basketball team to earn an NCAA Tournament berth in 1983-84 and a graduate of the USD School of Business in 1986, Chris Carr was on his way to becoming a corporate leader long before he held the title of executive. Little did he know, however, that it would be the unique culmination of the skills he gained both on the court and in the classroom that would drive his corporate success—first at ExxonMobil, and now as Executive Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Starbucks.

“I learned to deal with adversity and setbacks both academically and athletically,” said Carr. “That developmental environment really helped to create leadership attributes that are transferable into the corporate environment.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Carr attended Santa Monica City College before receiving a scholarship to continue his academic and athletic journey at USD. The scholarship covered two years of academics—the amount of time he was eligible to play basketball—but a handshake deal with then-Athletics Director Father Patrick Cahill enabled Carr to continue his studies at USD and earn his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the School of Business.  

“Father Cahill told me, ‘If academia is important to you, it’s important to us, and we’ll make sure you’re in a position to complete your undergraduate requirements,’” Carr recalled. “It was an early indication of what true servant leadership is all about. The way he dealt with my situation has had a significant influence on how I lead, coach and develop others today.”

The support Carr received from Father Cahill and the university helped him to discover two of his greatest passions in business, which also happen to be two cornerstones of an effective leader—endless curiosity and the will to tackle challenges head-on. After graduating from USD, he spent three years at Bristol-Myers Squibb before joining Mobil Oil Corporation (ExxonMobil following the 1999 merger), where he would spend the next 18 years in roles of increased responsibility. During that time, he also earned his MBA in marketing with distinction from the New York Institute of Technology.

Since joining Starbucks as Regional Vice President of Retail Stores in 2006, Carr has remained unwavering in his leadership philosophy. As Executive Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer, he spends an estimated 80 percent of the day in meetings ensuring organizational alignment of Starbucks’ corporate strategy, from creating win-win opportunities with suppliers to reinforcing the company’s efforts around its ethical sourcing and supplier diversity programs. But above all, Carr is responsible for ensuring reliable supply across the 22,000-plus Starbucks stores in more than 76 countries.  

“The only way we can bring the Starbucks experience to life is through our people, product, stores and digital experiences,” said Carr. “My team plays an integral part in making sure that in addition to sourcing the materials that we utilize to build our beautiful stores, we ensure that we have the right products, in the right stores, at the right time.”

At Starbucks, staff members are called “partners” as every employee has a vested interest in the company. In addition to his responsibilities as they relate specifically to procurement, Carr plays an influential role with helping to identify and develop the future leaders of the company through various partner development, retention, engagement and training initiatives. Seeing others striving to reach their potential is a principle that continues to motivate him to this day—a staple of an effective leader both in business and in sports.

“This probably goes back to my USD sports roots, but what moves me is seeing others strive to reach their aspiration,” he said. “When they’re thinking big and dreaming bigger—that’s when I’m most inspired.”


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658