Best Buy brews new role with former Starbucks exec

MINNEAPOLIS — While it may seem strange that a former Starbucks executive has been tapped to head Best Buy's digital and global business services, a closer look reveals Best Buy brewed a perfect fit.

Best Buy announced Friday that it has named Stephen Gillett to the role of EVP and president, Best Buy digital and global business services, reporting to company CEO Brian Dunn, effective March 14. In this newly created position, Gillett will be responsible for transforming and growing transformation Best Buy through the advancement of the company's global digital strategy, digital marketing, entertainment offerings, multi-channel capabilities and business development. Through his leadership of the enterprise's e-commerce businesses, information technologies and global shared services, Gillett will have oversight of the critical capabilities necessary to make technology a bigger part of the customer experience while enhancing operations and processes.

So what does a former Starbucks guy know about growing a digital strategy? A whole lot, in fact. In 2008, Starbucks, which was starting to recognize its role as more than just a place to get coffee, hired Gillett as SVP, CIO and general manager digital ventures. Eventually promoted to EVP digital ventures, Gillett's role at Starbucks included leading all responsible digital business activites at Starbucks including e-commerce, Starbucks Digital Network, Starbucks entertainment, strategic digital partnerships, mobility and digital music. 

Gillett's work at Starbucks earned him a number of accolades including being named to Fortune's "Executive Dream Team" in 2011 as one of only two CIOs among the 25 executives recognized. That same year, he was named Information Week's "Chief of the Year" and to Fortune's "40 Under 40" list. He also was the recipient of the 2010 Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship.

"I am delighted that Stephen is joining Best Buy and look forward to having him as a member of our team as we seek to improve returns and accelerate growth opportunities," said CEO Dunn. "Stephen is highly regarded for his creativity, innovation, and commitment to developing unparalleled customer experiences. His tremendous accomplishments at Starbucks speak to his drive and focus. Stephen has that rare combination of business leadership skills, retail transformation experience, and digital and technological acumen -- he is uniquely positioned to make an immediate difference at Best Buy."

Before joining Starbucks, Gillett was chief information officer for Corbis, a digital media company owned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. In that role, Gillett was responsible for global technology, engineering and leading platform efforts for Corbis' e-commerce and multimedia licensing business. Prior to Corbis, Gillett spent nearly a decade in Silicon Valley, holding senior technology positions with Yahoo! and CNET Networks.

Gillett holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon and an MBA from San Francisco State University.