Shortly before the Chinese New Year, Belinda Wong hung up the phone after a series of calls with her team. Alone in the quiet of her home, she contemplated everything they’d discussed. They were wrestling with a decision that would become one of the most momentous in Starbucks history.
As chairman and chief executive officer of Starbucks China, she’s lived and breathed the company’s mission to “Inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” She took pride in the role of Starbucks stores across the world as a third place, a place for human connection. But now, as she considered reports of an alarming new coronavirus outbreak, she knew she had to make a decision quickly whether to close thousands of stores across China to try to quell the spread.
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