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A Discussion with Paula Boggs: Retired but Not Tired

Posted in Career

For 10 years, Paula Boggs served as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary to Starbucks Coffee Company. Earlier this year, she bid farewell to the coffee conglomerate and is now retired at the age of 53 — about 14 years ahead of schedule, according to a recent Gallup poll. For Paula Boggs, however, retirement was not the end of her story … far from it, in fact. Since then, she has volunteered for Obama’s presidential campaign, continued to serve on multiple boards of directors, strengthened her relationships not only with family and friends, but also herself, and rekindled her passion for music, specifically guitar. Boggs was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to discuss her decision to retire, the transition from GC to retiree, how she occupies her time, and her plans (or lack thereof) for the future.

This is the first in a series of blog posts related to Paula Boggs. Be sure to follow along as we continue to provide insight into her journey.

When asked why she made the decision to retire at such a seemingly young age and at the apex of her professional success, Boggs replied, “I’ve had an amazing career and took tremendous pride — and still do — in the world-class organization I had the privilege of nurturing and leading for a decade at Starbucks.” What she saw on the horizon, however, was incrementalism. “I’m a mountain climber and a builder, and it was time for me to build something new — TBD [laughs] — while I was still young enough to do it.” And because Boggs had been grooming her successor, Lucy Helm, for 10 years, she was thrilled to know that the company would be left in extremely capable hands. With that peace of mind, Paula Boggs strode confidently into the great unknown.

Her first order of business became to volunteer for Obama’s presidential campaign. Boggs has been an Obama supporter since 2004; however, she was unable to volunteer full-time during his first campaign, because, for a variety of reasons, she did not feel comfortable leaving Starbucks in 2008. A few years later, Starbucks was in a much better place, says Boggs. “Meanwhile, my candidate was going to be in the fight for his political life, and someone like me could hopefully add value to that.” As a “surrogate” for the Obama campaign, Boggs travelled to several battleground states, speaking at events and to groups of people, such as college students, veterans, women, businesspeople and campaign volunteers. “One of the greatest things about that is that it has an absolute end date,” she says. And on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, when her obligations to the campaign ended, Paula Boggs started the next chapter of her life … without the never-ending stream of emails, daily meetings, conference calls and text alerts.

Where will she go? What will she do? Tune in next time for the answers to these questions and more.

Paula Boggs recently retired after 10 years as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at Starbucks Coffee Company. She is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and produced her first CD, “A Buddah State of Mind,” in 2010. She resides in Seattle and Santa Fe.

Brent Thomas
  • Well ACC, I think you’re asking the right questions:  “Where will she go? What will she do?” Hopefully my story will inspire others to leap!

  • APNicacio

    Ms. Boggs, what an amazing and inspirational record. I have and continue to admire you. Congratulations. Best of luck climbing your next mountain in life. I know you will reach the top, again. Kind regards, Ana Nicacio, Attorney.