Starbucks announces its next CEO, departing from the tech industry for the coffee giant’s next phase

Laxman Narasimhan Laxman Narasimhan, who was named the new CEO of Starbucks on Thursday afternoon is a veteran of international brands for consumer and business and most recently led an overhaul of Reckitt Benckiser which is the British company famous for its products like Durex condoms as well as Lysol disinfectant.

He is not a CEO with an extensive history with a major tech firm and this makes his selection a departure from the former Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, the former Microsoft and Juniper Networks exec who was fired from his post at the company at the end of March. The departure of Johnson was followed by Howard Schultz back in an interim CEO position, while Starbucks searched for a replacement.

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Narasimhan 55, who was appointed the new chief executive on the afternoon of Thursday. He will join the company on October. 1 after moving to London in the Seattle region. Starbucks states that he will assume the role of CEO until April 1st 2023. Schultz acting as interim CEO position until the end of April.

“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,” Narasimhan stated in Starbucks the news release.

He announced his resignation of Reckitt through LinkedIn the following day, noting that he’d left “a stronger and more resilient business” that it was when he joined Reckitt three years ago.

Narasimhan was previously in a variety of leadership positions at PepsiCo including the chief commercial officer for the global region. Before that, he served as an executive partner of McKinsey & Company, focused on its retail, consumer and technology strategies across India, the U.S., Asia and India and leading the company’s research into what the future holds for retail.

Born in Pune, India, Narasimhan was a student in his home in U.S. to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1991.

Schultz stated to The New York Times that Starbucks was seeking “a true servant leader that had a deep sense of humility” and that Narasimhan is “a true operator” with “the DNA of an entrepreneur.”

Narasimhan is expected to face a diverse array of challenges, such as a growing unionization organization within the company, and continuing efforts to adapt to the changes in the post-pandemic retail environment.

Starbucks announced that the plan following the arrival of Narasimhan to become fully absorbed in the business, while gaining exposure to the cultural and brand that comprises around 35,000 stores and 383,000 employees across the globe.

Johnson quit after 13 years at Starbucks and five years as the company’s CEO. He was instrumental in helping the company to adopt more technologies as Starbucks transformed into a technology business that offers coffee like other retailers that are undergoing digital transformation with a focus on cloud.

“When you love something, you have a deep sense of responsibility to help when called,” Schultz declared when he decided to come back as interim CEO.

He said to The New York Times that Narasimhan “will make us better.”

In May, Starbucks named a new CTO, a veteran of the retail technology industry Deb Hall Lefevre to head the company’s global tech operations. The company is scheduled to reveal new tech initiatives during its September. 13, investor event.

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