September 3, 2022: Starbucks has announced that India-born Laxman Narasimhan as its next CEO. He will officially begin his role in April and will then join the company's board of directors.
Narasimhan's previous company, Reckitt Benckiser, is the UK-based maker of several hygiene and health brands, including Durex condoms, Lysol and Mucinex. He was named CEO of the company in 2019.
Before joining Reckitt Benckiser, Narasimhan held several positions at PepsiCo (PEP), including global chief commercial officer. He was also a senior partner at McKinsey, focusing on consumer and retail.
Born in Pune in 1967, Narasimhan is an alumnus of St Vincent’s High School and its sister institution, Loyola High School in the city and joined the College of Engineering Pune now (COEP Technological university) in 1984 and graduated in Mechanical engineering four years later.
Times of India ( Pune edition) quotes Murtuza Poonawalla, businessman and an alumni of the Vincents' Old Boys' Association, who says that under the guidance of Father Oesch, Laxman started playing football and was the team's goalkeeper when he attended the school for two years. Friends recall the family which used to stay at Anand Park Society in Aundh. His mother was a primary school teacher at the J N Petit Technical School near Bund garden.
Indian Express writes:
"Professor Mukul S Sutaone, officiating director, COEP, was among several staff and students of the institution to congratulate Narasimhan. “With 168 years of legacy in producing quality engineers, COEP Tech has a rich alumni base that has significantly contributed in the nation-building process. Alumni like Prof Thomas Kailath, Prof CKN Patel, Dr Vijay Kelkar, Late Mr BG Shirke, Mrs Lila Poonawala, Dr Sanjay Dhande, Prof Ramesh Raskar, Dr Mahantesh Hiremath, Mr Laxman Narasimhan are few among those stalwart alumni of COEP who served our country and the mankind in many ways and the alumni have a lion’s share in the infrastructural development of the country. The list is endless, and we pay our tribute to each of our distinguished alumni who have done COEP proud. The alumni of the institute have done exceedingly well in all spheres of life at both national and international levels and brought name and fame not only for themselves but also to their alma mater. COEP takes pride in their achievements. Mr Laxman Narasimhan, our alumnus of 1988 batch of mechanical engineering, has indeed bought a great honour to his alma mater and the institute indeed takes great pride on his humongous achievements. We wish him all the best for all his future endeavors."
Filter coffee today, Irani chai tomorrow?
Even before his joining, In July, Starbucks announced it was adding (South Indian) filter coffee and masala chai to its India menu. Now Twitter is ablaze in India with culinary suggestions for Narasimhan:
One tweet read: "Dear @Starbucks now that you have Indian CEO - it's high time you bring Irani Chai and Osmania biscuits to your menu."
Maybe as an old Punekar, he might consider Kayanis’ Shrewsberry biscuits -- or Budhani's potato wafer as an accompaniment?