John Culver, group president for Starbucks China and Asia Pacific, Channel Development and Emerging Brands inducted to Florida State University College of Business Hall of Fame
In 1982, having just graduated from Florida State University, John Culver packed up his VW Rabbit and set off across the country to start working in the restaurant business. Not sure where his career would take him, Culver sought to gain diverse experience across the hospitality industry.
More than three decades later, what began as a cross-country road trip has flourished into a remarkable career that was recently recognized by Florida State University College of Business, which inducted Culver into its Hall of Fame. Since 2003, the college has honored 35 of its alumni with this prestigious distinction, celebrating those who have excelled in their careers and made significant contributions to the college and their professions.
“John’s career and leadership accomplishments combined with his involvement in the community embody the excellence, commitment and inspiration that we aspire to instill in all students and our graduates at Florida State University,” said Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, Dean of the College of Business.
“It was an amazing experience to see the energy and focus that Florida State brought to its hospitality program, and the opportunity that would provide me to learn and to grow,” said Culver, recalling his first time stepping onto the Florida State campus. “The Dedman School is one of the top hospitality schools in the country, and it provided me a strong foundation around leadership, business management and operations which I have carried with me throughout my career.”
Upon graduating with a degree in hospitality management, Culver spent several years working in the restaurant industry before taking a position with Nestle USA that ultimately led to him overseeing the company’s foodservice sales division. But it was in 2002 that Culver received a call that would, in his own words, “absolutely transform my life.”
That call was from Starbucks, and soon after, Culver joined the company to lead its foodservice division. After more than ten years of dedicated service to Starbucks, Culver today leads the company’s global Channel Development and Emerging Brands portfolio while also overseeing the company’s fastest-growing business in the China and Asia Pacific region.
“When you think of Starbucks and the more than 22,000 stores we operate around the world, the 300,000 partners (employees) who wear the green apron across 66 different markets – it’s truly an amazing company to be a part of,” said Culver.
What’s more, Culver notes, the culture of the company encourages Starbucks partners to be active members of the communities they serve.
“At Starbucks, I’ve found a company that’s aligned with my values. Our commitment to veterans and helping the men and women serving in the military is of particular importance to me. I am very proud to support those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and our commitment to hire 10,000 veterans over the next five years,” said Culver.
Starbucks Veterans Initiative particularly resonates with Culver, whose father was a 28-year Army veteran. “All these things define me as a person and as a leader and are part of the legacy I want to leave for others," he said.
Part of that legacy is the John & Karen Culver Endowment for International Travel Support – a fund created by Culver and his wife, Karen, to support international travel opportunities and experiences for students studying at Florida State University. A number of Florida State students have had the opportunity to round out their educational studies with international work experience made possible through this scholarship program.
Offering advice to students as they prepare to begin their careers, Culver notes, “I think it’s very important that students go out and determine what they want to do with their careers and where they want to live, and reflect within themselves by asking: Does the company I am considering joining have values similar to mine and will they provide me meaningful growth and development opportunities in the future?”
Culver also serves on the Florida State University Foundation Board of Trustees, and in 2011, he was named Alumnus of the Year by the Dedman School of Hospitality’s Society of Hosts.
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