Brewing a Starbucks from the ground up

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student Warner Walker starts his day like many in the world – with a cup of coffee. Recently, because of the heat in Atlanta, he’s been drinking a vanilla sweet cream cold brew from Starbucks.

If, like Walker, you’ve ever ordered a coffee from a Starbucks, it’s actually him you can thank for your morning java.

As the Director of Store Development in the Southeast, Walker leads a team responsible for all Starbucks’ real estate development in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Meaning, if there’s a conveniently placed store near you, Walker’s team put it there.

“One of our terms is ‘tree to key,’” he said. “We oversee everything from finding where the land is to actually handing managers the store keys. There’s a nice sense of accomplishment when I can drive past stores in many places throughout the Southeastern U.S. and know that I had something to do with it.”

Walker’s passion for real estate started long before he joined the Starbucks team in 2000. In fact, it’s been a passion of his since he was a teenager and one he’s pursued throughout his career.

Walker first started as a real estate analyst for Pepsi Co. after graduating with his Bachelor of Business Administration from Florida A&M University. From there, he continued with the company, analyzing real estate markets and finding locations for restaurants like Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut while also earning his MBA from Florida A&M and his master’s in accounting and finance management from DeVry University.

“I consider myself a lifelong learner and wanting to become an expert in the field,” he said.

Walker’s passion for learning and real estate led him to the Warrington College of Business’ DBA program, which he has followed since its inception.

“I’ve tracked this program since it was first being approved,” he said. “When it didn’t get approved at first, I wrote to the dean and said ‘there are folks who want this program in place.’”

Director of Professional Post Graduate Programs Angie Woodham actually saved that communication from Walker, letting him know later when the program was approved.

“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” he said. “I’m ready to dive in with both feet. I’m ready to be a Gator.”

For the next three years, Walker will get to live out that dream in the DBA program at UF, while also training for a marathon and continuing to drink lots of cold brew, of course.