The moment students and faculty heard that campus would soon get a Starbucks, there was a buzz in anticipation of its arrival. Current students and faculty of Illinois State were not the only ones thrilled about the new addition to campus, alum and Starbucks regional human resource manager Robert Shorty ’08 was as well.
Shorty spent most of his teen years in a group home, after coming from a community with a large amount of gang activity and crime. Here is where he realized he had alternative choices and did not have to follow in the footsteps of others in his community. A choice he made, after persevering through necessity, was pursuing a degree in sociology at Illinois State University.
The skills Shorty acquired during his time as a sociology major and president of the Interdenominational Youth Choir (IYC) at Illinois State are applicable on a day-to-day basis as a human resource leader for a global organization. His education helped him to strengthen and practice skills in critical analysis and understanding complex issues. Shorty’s involvement as a leader of a student organization instilled the importance of hard work, leadership, and the impact one can have on a community. Illinois State made him understand that he could influence a community through his work which became a driving force for Shorty as he began his search for a profession.
Following college, Shorty looked to make a large community impact and decided to do so overseas with a mission trip to Kenya with the Filadelfia Women Crisis Centre. Following his return, he began to marry his passion for community and business when a friend referred him to Target Corporation within the human resource department. Here is where he fell in love with the profession.
The idea of community impact came more into play when he found that Starbucks was a company that shared his thoughts on social responsibility, community relations, and positive reputation. Now each day he can take his passion for the community and apply it to his job. At work he coaches business leaders, provides personal and professional development for associates, and works with community partners to improve Starbucks’ values of community involvement and social responsibility. Starbucks also encourages community impact outside of work which inspired Shorty to get involved as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, an associate board member of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and a member of the Columbus Urban League of Young Professionals. He believes his determination and aspiration to achieve is very reflective of both the spirit and mission of Illinois State University and Starbucks. “When I think of the values of both Illinois State and my company, I see alignment around excellency in diversity and service to communities,” Shorty stated. “These two principles are truly what have allowed my life to grow and prosper in the way that it has.”
Shorty’s involvement during his time at Illinois State and after prepared him for his success at Starbucks and allowed him to leverage his background and past experiences to have a positive impact as a corporate professional. He encourages future Redbirds to “think about what you love to do, what you’re passionate about and then identify a career you can nurture that passion.”