Laxman Narasimhan of Indian origin officially takes over as Starbucks CEO

Laxman Narasimhan, an executive of Indian descent, became the official CEO of the multinational coffee giant Starbucks on Monday. He thus joined the expanding cadre of businessmen of Indian origin who are in charge of major multinational companies.

Starbucks announced in September of last year that Narasimhan would take over as the organization’s future CEO and a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors.

Narasimhan joined Starbucks as the next CEO on October 1, 2022, after moving from London to the Seattle area, following a global hunt for a new CEO to succeed business founder and current former CEO, Howard Schultz.

“Effective today, Laxman Narasimhan has assumed the role of chief executive officer and will join the company’s board of directors,” Starbucks said in a statement. Narasimhan will lead Starbucks’ Annual Shareholder Meeting on March 23.

“As he ascends into the role, Narasimhan will continue engaging the leadership team, sharing his early learnings and insights and assessing opportunities for the company as they chart a path forward,” the company said.

Narasimhan, a former CEO of the consumer health, hygiene, and nutrition multinational Reckitt Benckiser with headquarters in the UK, joins Starbucks with nearly 30 years of experience managing multinational consumer goods businesses and offering guidance to retailers, food distributors, restaurants, and e-commerce businesses.

According to the company, he has spent the last five months travelling to work with staff members in more than 30 stores, manufacturing facilities, and support centres throughout the world, “earning his barista certification” in the process.

The corporate announcement quoted Narasimhan as saying, “I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks Chief Executive Officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world.”

He praised Schultz for “building from scratch an iconic global brand fuelled by a lasting passion to uplift humanity” and said he is honoured to have the chance to continue this rich legacy.

“As a human connection business, we have limitless possibilities to deliver for our partners, our customers, our investors, and our communities through every cup and every connection. I am excited to work alongside our partners worldwide to unlock the limitless future of Starbucks.”

Together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, and IBM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna, Narasimhan has now joined the expanding roster of CEOs of Indian descent leading major international corporations. Before leaving her position as CEO of PepsiCo in 2018, Indra Nooyi had been there for 12 years. Furthermore, Ajay Banga, a former CEO of Mastercard, was proposed by US President Joe Biden as the new head of the World Bank last month.

Narasimhan graduated from the College of Engineering at the University of Pune in India with a degree in mechanical engineering. Additionally, he holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from The Wharton School of  The University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in German and International Studies from The Lauder Institute at The University of Pennsylvania.

According to Starbucks, the company has unveiled a company reinvention strategy and is continuing to invest more than USD 1 billion in retail partners and stores for priority areas like increased pay and sick time accrual, new financial well being benefits, modernised training and collaboration, store innovation and equipment, and the celebration of coffee.

Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair Mellody Hobson noted in the statement that Narasimhan is uniquely qualified to lead Starbucks into its next stage of growth due to his “intensive immersion” into the company and considerable expertise as a proven brand builder, developer, and operator.

“This immersion has deepened Laxman’s understanding of Starbucks’ culture and values. In this time of learning and listening, he has already won the hearts and minds of our partners around the world,” according to Hobson.
Prior to this, Narasimhan worked at PepsiCo as an executive in a number of senior positions, including that of global chief commercial officer, where he was in charge of the organisation’s long-term growth strategy and commercial skills.

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