The brew giant has an Indian flavor – Laxman Narasimhan takes over as Starbucks CEO


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Indian-origin Laxman Narasimhan took charge as the Chief Executive Officer of global coffee giant Starbucks, joining the spiralling league of leaders originally from India at the top of global corporations. In September last year, it was announced that Mr Narasimhan would become the company’s next chief executive officer and a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors. He replaces the company founder and former CEO, Howard Schultz,

Laxman Narasimhan also led Starbucks Annual Shareholder Meeting on March 23. Mr Narasimhan holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering, University of Pune, India. He also has a Master of Arts in German and International Studies from The Lauder Institute at The University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

“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. Mr Narasimhan, the former CEO of UK-based consumer health, hygiene and nutrition multinational Reckitt Benckiser, brings to Starbucks nearly 30 years of experience leading global consumer goods businesses and advising retail, grocery, restaurant and e-commerce companies. The company said that over the past five months, he has embarked on a unique immersion experience, traveling to work with employees in over 30 stores, manufacturing plants and in support centers around the world, ‘earning his barista certification’ along the way.

Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair Mellody Hobson said in the statement that Narasimhan’s ‘intensive immersion’ into the business coupled with his extensive experience as a proven brand builder, innovator and operator have uniquely prepared him to lead Starbucks into its next phase of growth. “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,” Ms Hobson said.

Previously, Mr Narasimhan has served as an executive in various leadership roles at PepsiCo, including as global chief commercial officer, where he was responsible for the company’s long-term growth strategy and commercial capabilities. Prior to PepsiCo, he spent 19 years at McKinsey & Company, where he advised companies across the retail, consumer goods, and healthcare industries in the US, Asia, and India.

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