Laxman Narasimhan’s job title on LinkedIn is interesting. He describes himself as “incoming ceo, Starbucks Coffee Company.” A closer look at his recent post is an indication of how he has already hit the ground running.
“This weekend I had the privilege of beginning my journey as a Starbucks partner, embarking on my barista training under the guidance of Claudia in Mineola, New York, and Sandy, my culture coach. As hundreds of thousands of partners before me, I had my “first sip.” It involved learning about the mission and values of the company from Claudia, learning about the company’s history, and watching a moving video of advice for me from several partners,” it says.
Narasimhan joins the increasing list of Indian-born individuals having assumed the corner at global companies, with the likes of Google, Microsoft, IBM being only a few other examples. In fact, he moves from Reckitt Benckiser (where he was already CEO), after effecting a successful turnaround. The challenges at Starbucks are plenty and Narasimhan will have his hands full for a while. The Seattle-based iconic coffee brand, founded in 1971, is dealing with a big unionisation push. Besides, China, one of its biggest markets, is going through a phase of declining sales.
In the post, Narasimhan goes on to say, “The coffee Claudia chose for my first tasting was Espresso Roast. It has a bold and intense flavour with notes of molasses and a caramel sweetness. The reason she chose it is that she believes her partners are at the heart of the company- much like Espresso Roast, which is the heart of many drinks we make. She paired it with a brownie trifle with caramel. Well, that was all amazing. I have made notes of this experience and how I felt in my coffee passport.”
Prior to Reckitt, Narasimhan, 55, had stints at PepsiCo and McKinsey. Having been educated for most part in Pune, where he picked up a degree in mechanical engineering, followed by an MBA from The Wharton School in the US before heading to McKinsey where he worked for nineteen years.
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