Home Trending Who is Laxman Narasimhan, Starbuck’s new, Indian-born CEO?

Who is Laxman Narasimhan, Starbuck’s new, Indian-born CEO?

by Aiden

He starts next year, and will hopefully bring much-needed changes.

By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales

Starbucks recently named Pune-born Laxman Narasimhan as its newest CEO, starting in April. As the new head of the coffee juggernaut and one of the world’s most ubiquitous chains, 55-year-old Laxman will take the reins from Howard Schultz, the brand’s three-time CEO who came back from retirement solely to choose the right heir to his position.

Born and bred in India, Laxman left his hometown of Pune to pursue two graduate degrees in the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, one in International Studies and the other an MBA, after which he led a prolific career as the head of some of the world’s most renowned brands. His rapid rise to success included being named senior partner at McKinsey & Company, one of the so-called ‘Big Three’ strategy consulting firms; as well as stints as CEO of PepsiCo‘s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, and CEO of Reckitt Benckiser. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Verizon Communications

Starbucks has recently come under fire for opposing the unionisation of their employees, many of whom have expressed dismay over rising inflation without commensurate pay, and the way they were treated during the pandemic. As a result, the company has vowed to invest more in employee wages and benefits, including increased sick leave and more specialised training; as well as better store layouts and equipment. Nevertheless, since late 2021, over 233 stores in the US have voted to unionise. 

The decision to choose Laxman, referred to as a ‘turnaround agent’ by the business world, is therefore obvious – the company hopes that his deft direction will help them navigate these delicate times. Laxman joined Reckitt at a similarly tumultuous time for the company, and has since managed to guide it through its controversies (including several lawsuits for profiteering from opioid sales, as well as accidental homicide claims), and landed the company in a better financial position.  

Laxman will officially join Starbucks this October, and will take the helm as CEO in April. Meanwhile, Howard, who currently remains as interim CEO, will continue advising him as he settles into the company. According to Mellody Hobson, the chair of the company’s Board of Directors, “[Laxman’s] 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.”

We at Masala hope he’ll bring much-needed changes to this global conglomerate, perhaps even starting with renaming the infamous Chai tea latte.

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