Starbucks appoints Indian-origin Laxman Narasimhan as CEO

Joining the league of global Indian CEOs is Laxman Narasimhan who will take over the reins of the coffee giant, Starbucks, from October 1. The company announced the appointment of Narasimhan on Thursday. He will join the board on April 1, 2023. Narasimhan will initially join as incoming CEO, after relocating from London to Seattle, and will work closely with interim CEO Howard Schultz, before assuming the role of the CEO and joining the board.  

Narasimhan has 30 years of experience in leading and advising global consumer-facing brands. He has a proven record of developing purpose-led brands, and driving consumer-centric and digital innovations, said the company.  

During the transition period, Narasimhan will spend time with Schultz, the management team, partners and customers to gain meaningful insights and in-depth exposure to the company and its reinvention plan. He will also visit Starbucks stores, manufacturing plants, and coffee farms, it said.  

Schultz will continue in the role of interim CEO in the transition period, after which he will continue as a member of the board. 

Commenting on the appointment, Narasimhan said, “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. 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.” 

Before Starbucks, Narasimhan was the CEO of Reckitt, a multinational consumer health, hygiene and nutrition company.  

He has also held leadership roles at PepsiCo, including as global chief commercial officer, CEO of the company’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, CEO of PepsiCo Latin America, and CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. Before that, Narasimhan was a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on its consumer, retail and technology practices in the US, Asia and India. 

Narasimhan is a Mechanical Engineering graduate 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 University of Pennsylvania. 

Schultz called Narasimhan the “right leader to take Starbucks into its next chapter”. “He is uniquely positioned to shape this work and lead the company forward with his partner-centered approach and demonstrated track record of building capabilities and driving growth in both mature and emerging markets,” said Schultz. 

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