Tracing the Journey of Pune Engineer Who Will Lead Coffee Giant

The number of Indian and Indian origin CEOs in the US has grown yet again with Laxman Narasimhan named the chief executive officer of coffee making giant Starbucks. Narasimhan, who worked with Reckitt before being named as the Starbucks CEO, will replace Howard Schultz. Laxman Narasimhan will take charge of the company on October 1, 2022, joining a growing cohort of Indian-origin business leaders at the helm of global corporations.

Starbucks announced on Thursday that Narasimhan will become the company’s next chief executive officer and a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors. Narasimhan will join Starbucks as incoming CEO on October 1, 2022 after relocating from London to the Seattle area and will work closely with Howard Schultz, the interim CEO, before assuming the leadership role and joining the Board on April 1, 2023.

Laxman Narasimhan: An Engineer from Pune Then, a Global Brand Leader Now

Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan was born on April 15, 1967 in Pune, and was raised in the Maharashtra city. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering Pune, Savitribai Phule Pune University. Subsequently,  he earned 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 The University of Pennsylvania.

Narasimhan started his career when he joined McKinsey and worked there for 19 years until 2012. During his stint at the company, the now-55-year-old was promoted to the position of the director and location manager for their New Delhi office.

In 2012, Narasimhan joined PepsiCo, where he held various leadership including as global chief commercial officer, where he was responsible for 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 CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods.

Narasimhan is also a trustee of the Brookings Institution, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, served as a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Build Back Better Council, and is a member of Verizon’s Board of Directors.

His most recent stint was with Reckitt, which also makes Lysol, Durex condoms, Enfamil baby formula and Mucinex cold syrup. Narasimhan joined the company in September 2019 and was the first external candidate to take the helm at Reckitt since it was formed in 1999.

He led the company through the pandemic, which boosted sales of its health and hygiene products, and more recently navigated a baby formula crisis in the United States, culminating in a raise in its annual forecast earlier this year.

Laxman Narasimhan Brings 30 Years of Experience, Has Proven Track Record

As per a statement by Starbucks, “Narasimhan brings nearly 30 years of experience leading and advising global consumer-facing brands. Known for his considerable operational expertise, he has a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands. Building on companies’ histories, he has succeeded in rallying talent to deliver on future ambitions by driving consumer-centric and digital innovations.”

(With agency inputs)

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