Who is Laxman Narasimhan, the new Starbucks CEO?
Starbucks Corporation, the largest coffee company in the world, has appointed Laxman Narasimhan as its new CEO. The consumer industry veteran who has roots in Pune will take over from interim CEO Howard Schultz on October 1, 2022. Narasimhan is known for his work as the CEO of Reckitt Benckiser. He has also served as the CEO of PepsiCo Latin America.
- Narasimhan is the latest entrant to the list of Indian executives appointed at the helm of a multinational corporation. He joins Starbucks at a time when the company is going through a tough transition.
- With workers demanding better benefits and increased costs of labor and ingredients, Narasimhan has his work cut out.
- It will be interesting to see how he tackles various challenges.
Narasimhan will join the Starbucks board on April 1, 2023. Before taking over the role of CEO, he will work closely with Schultz after relocating from London to Seattle. During the transition period, the new CEO will be fully immersed in the company, learning more about the teams, customers, and manufacturing. Schultz will remain in his role as interim CEO during this period.
Schultz, who has been the CEO of Starbucks three times, said, "When I learned about Laxman's desire to relocate, it became apparent that he is the right leader to take Starbucks into its next chapter." "The perspectives he brings will be a strong asset as we build on our heritage in this new era of greater well-being," he added.
Before joining Starbucks, Narasimhan was the CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, the parent of Durex, Dettol, and Lysol, among others. After assuming the position in 2019, he revitalized Reckitt Benckiser. Also, Starbucks itself is in need of a reinvention. About Narasimhan's appointment, Schultz said, "He is uniquely positioned to shape this work and lead the company forward with his...demonstrated track record of building capabilities."
Starbucks is going through a turbulent phase. A union drive that began in December 2021 has resulted in the unionization of over 200 stores. The company is also trying to reinvent its business model from a cafe-focused system to mobile pickup and delivery. The COVID-19 restrictions in China have also affected Starbucks, as the country is one of its biggest overseas markets.
Born in 1967 in Pune, Narasimhan did his schooling at Loyola High School and St. Vincent's Junior College. From 1984-1988, he studied at Pune's College of Engineering. After graduating in mechanical engineering, Narasimhan went to the US. In 1991, he joined The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his MBA and MA in International Studies from there.
Narasimhan began his professional career with the global management consultancy firm McKinsey. He worked there from 1993 to 2012. In 2012, he joined PepsiCo. Narasimhan worked in various capacities for the beverages giant, including CEO of Latin America, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa and Global Chief Commercial Officer. He became Reckitt's CEO in 2019. He has also been a board member of Verizon since 2021.