By Beth Kowitt
It was the end of 2016 and she was running Sam’s Club, Walmart’s warehouse club division. Starbucks’ chief executive Howard Schultz was visiting the retailing giant’s Bentonville headquarters for a panel discussion with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.
But at the last minute, McMillon had to cancel so Brewer stepped in. She and Schultz “were probably on stage for about 90 minutes,” she tells Fortune. “We just hit it off.”
Brewer soon made her own trip out to Seattle with her team to visit Starbucks’ flagship roastery for a tour and discussion about the digital revolution of retail. The 10-minute drop-in she was supposed to have with Schultz lasted more than an hour. Schultz asked if she’d ever considered joining the board. “And I said, ‘No, not really. I’m not interested in another board seat, but thank you very much,’” Brewer recalls. “And then by the time I got to the airport, I was thinking what did I just do?”