Laxman Narasimhan named as next Starbucks CEO

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Anand Mahindra hails Narasimhan’s appointment as an ‘unstoppable trend’ of Indian-origin CEOs

Global coffee giant Starbucks has appointed Indian-born Laxman Narasimhan, a veteran of PepsiCo and other consumer brands, as its next Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Pune, India-born Narasimhan will join Starbucks as incoming CEO on Oct 1, 2022 after relocating from London to the Seattle area and assume the CEO role and join the Board on April 1, 2023.

Read: Meet the top 7 Indian Americans CEOs in corporate America (November 30, 2021)

Before that he will work closely with Howard Schultz, interim CEO, Seattle based premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee with more than 34,000 stores worldwide, announced Sep 1.

Narasimhan joins the growing cohort of Indian-origin business leaders such as Parag Agrawal, Leena Nair, Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai who are currently at the helm of top multinational corporations.

“Starbucks commitment to uplift humanity through connection and compassion has long distinguished the company, building an unrivaled, globally admired brand that has transformed the way we connect over coffee,” said Narasimhan.

“I am humbled to be joining this iconic company at such a pivotal time, as the Reinvention and investments in the partner and customer experiences position us to meet the changing demands we face today and set us up for an even stronger future,” he said

“I look forward to working closely with Howard, the Board, and the entire leadership team – and to listening and learning from Starbucks partners – as we collectively build on this work to lead the company into its next chapter of growth and impact.”

Narasimhan brings nearly 30 years of experience leading and advising global consumer-facing brands. Known for his considerable operational expertise, he has a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands, the release said.

Building on companies’ histories, he has succeeded in rallying talent to deliver on future ambitions by driving consumer-centric and digital innovations.

Most recently, he served as chief executive officer of Reckitt, a FTSE-12 listed multinational consumer health, hygiene and nutrition company, where he led the company through a major strategic transformation and a return to sustainable growth.

“Laxman is an inspiring leader. His deep, hands-on experience driving strategic transformations at global consumer-facing businesses makes him the ideal choice to accelerate Starbucks growth and capture the opportunities ahead of us,” said Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair.

“His understanding of our culture and values, coupled with his expertise as a brand builder, innovation champion, and operational leader will be true differentiators as we position Starbucks for the next 50 years, generating value for all our stakeholders. On behalf of the entire Board, I am thrilled to welcome Laxman as Starbucks next CEO.”

Read: Going to Starbucks in San Jose? Now, it can be your Safe Zone against hate crimes (August 27, 2019)

Previously, Narasimhan held various leadership roles at PepsiCo, including as global chief commercial officer, where he was responsible for the company’s long-term strategy and digital capabilities.

He also served as CEO of the company’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, and previously as the CEO of PepsiCo Latin America, and the CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods.

Prior to PepsiCo, Narasimhan was a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on its consumer, retail and technology practices in the US, Asia and India and led the firm’s thinking on the future of retail.

Narasimhan is also a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, served as a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Build Back Better Council, and is a member of Verizon’s Board of Directors.

He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering, University of Pune, India. He has an MA in German and International Studies from The Lauder Institute at The University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, hailing Narasimhan’s appointment, Indian business tycoon Anand Mahindra called it an “unstoppable trend” of appointment of Indian-origin CEOs at the world’s most iconic companies.

“What was initially a trickle of water has turned into a Tsunami,” Mahindra and Mahindra corporation chairman tweeted. “The appointment of Indian-origin CEOs at the world’s most iconic companies is now an unstoppable trend.”

The reason behind Indian-origin bosses taking over the leadership is because most international boardrooms consider them to be almost ‘safe’ leadership bets,” he added.

Read: Laxman Narasimhan named as next Starbucks CEO (September 2, 2022)

Thrilled Indians also celebrated Narasimhan’s appointment with some jokes on twitter.

“Starbucks should introduce Madras Kaapi in its menu with new CEO on board,” suggested one. “Now that you have Indian CEO – it’s high time you bring Irani Chai and Osmania biscuits to your menu,” said another.

But one Gabbbar Singh had the last word suggesting, “A Puneri person is the CEO of Starbucks now. Globally the stores will be shut between 1pm to 4pm.”

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