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Starbucks chooses Indian-born CEO to lead company as it faces inflation, unionization

  • Laxman Narasimhan, the former CEO of multinational consumer goods company Reckitt, has been chosen as the next CEO of the global coffee chain Starbucks.

  • The 55-year-old executive hails from the Indian city of Pune, where he completed a degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) in 1988. 

  • "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 in a statement. 

  • Narasimhan will join Starbucks as “incoming CEO” on Oct. 1 before fully taking over on April 1, 2023, from outgoing chief executive Howard Schult.

  • Narasimhan is the latest among the growing number of CEOs of Indian descent to head leading U.S. companies, including Twitter’s Parag Agrawal, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Deloitte’s Punit Renjen and FedEx’s Raj Subramaniam.

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Starbucks named Indian-born Laxman Narasimhan its next chief executive officer on Thursday. 

“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 after the announcement.

Narasimhan had earlier announced his departure as CEO of multinational consumer goods company Reckitt, maker of sore throat medicine Strepsils, Durex condoms, Enfamil baby formula and Mucinex cold syrup.

Narasimhan is set to relocate from London to Seattle to join Starbucks as “incoming CEO” on Oct. 1 before fully taking over on April 1, 2023, from outgoing chief executive Howard Schultz.

Schultz, who assumed the role of interim CEO last April after Kevin Johnson stepped down, spoke highly of Narasimhan. 

“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 in our commitment to our partners, customers, and communities,” Schultz was quoted as saying. “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.”

Narasimhan is joining the global coffee chain as it faces rising inflation, declining revenue in China and a growing unionization movement. 

In a statement from Workers United, barista Michelle Eisen said: “We are hopeful that Mr. Narasimhan will end Starbucks’s scorched-earth union-busting campaign. This is the perfect opportunity for Starbucks to end the wrongful terminations, store closings and war against workers.”

The 55-year-old executive, who hails from the Indian city of Pune, completed a degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) in 1988. 

Narasimhan is the latest among the growing number of CEOs of Indian descent to head leading U.S. companies, including Twitter’s Parag Agrawal, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, Deloitte’s Punit Renjen and FedEx’s Raj Subramaniam.

 

Featured Image via OutlookMagazine

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