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Starbucks Names a New Tech Chief to Drive Innovation
Deb Hall Lefevre has been named the next CTO at Starbucks, replacing Hans Melotte, who has been the coffee chain’s interim CTO since December 2021.
Deb Hall Lefevre. Image courtesy of Deb Hall Lefevre via LinkedIn.
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2 minute read

Deb Hall Lefevre has been named the next CTO at Starbucks, replacing Hans Melotte, who has been the coffee chain’s interim CTO since December 2021.

Lefevre will officially take on her new role on May 2, and will immediately work on changes to the company’s app and digital systems. A Starbucks spokesperson told Reuters that Lefevre will likely initially work to increase personalization in its mobile app and improve digital systems that will allow baristas to spend more time with customers.

Use of the coffee shop’s mobile ordering system has surged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and left many of the company’s baristas fighting burnout. Lefevre’s mission will likely be to implement tech to fight that burnout by removing tedium from baristas’ day-to-day jobs and ensuring they don’t encounter technical hiccups. To do so, she will fall back on decades of experience driving technological innovation at fast-food giants.

In April 2022, interim CEO Howard Shultz told store managers, "We have to reimagine the customer experience....We have to reimagine mobile-order-and-pay, the drive-thru," according to an internal video message seen by Reuters.

Before accepting the offer to join Starbucks, Lefevre spent five years as the CTO for convenience store chains Couche-Tard and Circle K. She also completed a 16-year career at McDonald’s, where she left after serving as the VP of Global Enterprise Solutions and Business Transformation. While at McDonald’s, she oversaw the creation of the company’s app as well as its touchscreen menu boards that allow customers to place their own in-store orders.

Lefevre joins Starbucks just weeks after Schultz rejoined the company as CEO for the third time. Among Schultz’s first orders of business was to organize collaboration sessions with frontline workers across the country to understand the pain points that he must address now that he is back in charge.

The feedback Schultz received reportedly revolved around a lack of training, increased turnover and worse working conditions despite growing profits—in its 2021 fiscal year, which ended in October 2021, Starbucks generated $4.2 billion in net earnings, its second-best year on record.

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