Meet Indian-origin Laxman Narasimhan, next CEO of Starbucks

Global coffee chain Starbucks has named Indian-origin Laxman Narasimhan as their next Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Laxman Narasimhan has served as the CEO of pharma company Reckitt Benckiser. The 55-year-old, who also previously worked for PepsiCo as its global chief commercial officer, will replace Howard Schultz.

Photo courtesy: Business Wire
Narasimhan will join Starbucks from October 1 and take over the CEO post from April 2023. Photo courtesy: Business Wire

"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,” Narasimhan said.

Narasimhan will join Starbucks from October 1 and take over the CEO post from April 2023. Starting in the fiscal year 2023, Narsimhan will also be eligible for annual equity awards equating to USD 13.6 million (over INR 107 crore).

"Starbucks' commitment to uplift humanity through connection and compassion has long distinguished the company, building an unrivaled, globally admired brand that has transformed the way we connect over coffee," Narasimhan said.

Laxman Narasimhan is a graduate from the University of Pune and completed his master's degree in German and international studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylavania. He also has a master's in business administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Narasimhan is married with two children.

"He is a strategic and transformational leader with deep experience in building powerful consumer brands," Schultz said in a letter to employees welcoming Narasimhan.

Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 34,000 stores worldwide
Starbucks Coffee Company has more than 34,000 stores worldwide. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

He has also served as a senior partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company where he focused on its consumer, retail and technology practices in the US, Asia and India. 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.

"We really do believe we've found an exceptional individual to be our next CEO. He's a tested leader," Mellody Hobson, chairperson of the Starbucks Board, said.

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. 

Narasimhan will earn USD 1.3 million (about INR 10 crore) as his annual base salary, as mentioned by a regulatory filing. The new CEO will also receive a USD 1.5 million (INR 12 crore) cash signing bonus as well as a replacement equity grant with a target value of USD 9.25 million (approx. INR 73 crore).

Indian business tycoon Anand Mahindra also took to Twitter to share his pride over the appointment of Narasimhan. The Mahindra Group Chairman, in his tweet, congratulated the new CEO of Starbucks and how the appointment of Indian-origin CEOs has become an "unstoppable trend".  

Mahindra's tweet read, “What was initially a trickle of water has turned into a Tsunami. The appointment of Indian-origin CEOs at the world's most iconic companies is now an unstoppable trend. International boardrooms consider them to be almost ‘safe' leadership bets.”  

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