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Starbucks announces Indian-origin Laxman Narasimhan as new CEO

Narasimhan will join Starbucks as CEO on October 1, 2022. He will be closely working with Howard Schultz, interim CEO, before fully assuming the CEO role

Laxman Narasimhan

Starbucks on Thursday announced that Laxman Narasimhan will join the brand as its next Chief Executive Officer in October.

Narasimhan will join Starbucks as a CEO on October 1, 2022. He will be closely working with Howard Schultz, interim CEO, before fully assuming the CEO role and joining the Board of Directors as a member on April 1, 2023.

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As per Starbucks’ blog post, Narasimhan has nearly 30 years of experience leading and advising global consumer-facing brands. He is known for his expertise in operations and has a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands.

Most recently, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Reckitt, an 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, the blog wrote.

Schultz, Starbucks CEO and board member, made the announcement through a post on LinkedIn. He wrote, “I am thrilled to announce Laxman Narasimhan will join us as the next chief executive officer of Starbucks. He brings the ideal background, knowledge, and demonstrated track record of living his values to lead Starbucks into the future. Put simply, Laxman is steeped in humility with extraordinary executive and operational skills.”

Moreover, in the blog post by Starbucks, Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Director's chair, said, “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. 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.”

Narasimhan will be fully immersed in the company during the transition period by spending time with Schultz and the management team, partners and customers and gaining in-depth exposure to the brand, company culture, and reinvention plan, as per the blog post.

Schultz will remain as interim CEO during this transition period, following which he will continue as a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors. He will remain closely connected with the company’s Reinvention and act as an ongoing advisor to Narasimhan.

“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. He is uniquely positioned to shape this work and lead the company forward with his partner-centred approach and demonstrated track record of building capabilities and driving growth in both mature and emerging markets. As I have had the opportunity to get to know him, it has become clear that he shares our passion for investing in humanity and our commitment to our partners, customers, and communities. The perspectives he brings will be a strong asset as we build on our heritage in this new era of greater well-being. I greatly look forward to our partnership over the coming months and years,” said Schultz.

Narasimhan said, “Starbucks commitment to uplift humanity through connection and compassion has long distinguished the company, building an unrivalled, 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.”

“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.”

Before this, Narasimhan held various leadership roles at PepsiCo, including as global chief commercial officer, where he was in charge of 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 CFOs of PepsiCo Americas Foods.

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

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