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Reckitt Benckiser brings in Laxman Narasimhan as CEO

Narasimhan will join the company as CEO-designate and be appointed to the board as an Executive Director effective from July 16. He will become Group CEO with effect from September 1

Laxman Narasimhan

Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB) has announced the appointment of Laxman Narasimhan as Chief Executive Officer to succeed Rakesh Kapoor.

Narasimhan will join the company as CEO-designate and be appointed to the board as an Executive Director effective from July 16.  He will become Group CEO with effect from September 1.

Narasimhan joins RB from PepsiCo where he is currently the Global Chief Commercial Officer and is responsible for PepsiCo's integrated long-term growth strategy. He has been a member of the PepsiCo executive committee for the last four years, reporting to the Chairman and Chief Executive. He leads strategy, global category groups, global R&D and is implementing an advanced digital capability across the PepsiCo business.

Narasimhan will serve as Group Chief Executive Officer at RB, while also directly leading the Health Business unit.

Chris Sinclair, Chairman of the Board, said, “The board is delighted to have appointed Narasimhan as our new Chief Executive Officer after a thorough and rigorous global selection process from a strong bench of internal and external candidates.”

He said, “Narasimhan is an outstanding leader who brings wide experience across the consumer goods sector, both operationally at scale, and from his time at McKinsey. He has led complex operational businesses and inspired teams across developed and emerging markets to achieve market-leading performance.”

“Narasimhan has exceptional strategic capabilities and consumer insight with a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands and driving consumer centric and digital innovation. This, combined with his excellent people engagement and leadership skills, gives the board confidence that he will continue to evolve the strong culture of RB and deliver outperformance,” he said.

Mentioning about Narasimhan’s responsibilities, Sinclair said his initial priorities will be to focus on delivering outperformance, especially in the health business unit, and to drive RB2.0.

“I would like to thank Kapoor for his continued leadership of the business and express my gratitude for his commitment and enormous contribution to RB over more than three decades. Kapoor and Narasimhan will work together over the coming weeks to ensure a seamless leadership transition and handover,” specified Sinclair.

Narasimhan 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 at The University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to his current role at PepsiCo, Narasimhan was Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, where he ran the company's food and beverage businesses across the regions. Managing £14.5 billion in revenues across 100 countries and 125,000 employees, he grew both revenue and earnings at accelerated industry leading rates over the past two years.

He achieved this by making the business more consumer-centric, bringing more digital capability, strengthening leadership teams and driving productivity. He has a strong track record of positive engagement with both internal and external stakeholders, which included bottlers, governments, the Nature Conservancy on water sustainability and partnering with the InterAmerican Development Bank on a number of programmes, including women’s empowerment, sustainable farming and recycling.

Narasimhan was previously the Senior Vice-President and CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods, leading the company’s food businesses for North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean.

Prior to PepsiCo, Laxman served as a Director for McKinsey & Company.  He oversaw consumer-facing industries in India, spearheaded McKinsey’s research on the emerging-market digital consumer, co-led McKinsey’s Global Consumer and Shopper Insights Practice and its Global Retail Knowledge Council. 

His nearly two decades at McKinsey across Cleveland, Tokyo, Toronto, Silicon Valley and New Delhi provided him with the opportunity to fill a wide array of roles across three continents, adapting to a myriad of cultures and expectations while gaining expertise in multiple industries, including consumer, retail, technology, consumer health and manufacturing. With an interest in global affairs and a desire to improve educational opportunities, he led several public sector initiatives at McKinsey in India with the government, focusing primarily on education and skill-building.

Narasimhan is a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and previously, an Advisory Board member of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Centre at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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