By: Pramod Thomas
The new CEO of Starbucks, Laxman Narasimhan, has expressed his intention to work as a barista once a month in order to remain closely connected to the company’s culture, customers, challenges, and opportunities.
Narasimhan, 55, officially assumed the role of chief executive in Seattle this week, taking over from Howard Schultz two weeks earlier than planned.
He was introduced as the incoming CEO of Starbucks at a coffee tasting event at the company’s original store in Pike Place Market, Seattle.
In a letter to the employees, the Indian-American business executive said he will always be a “fierce advocate” for the company’s partners and its culture.
“With you, I’ve experienced every aspect of the business to learn what it truly means to wear the green apron. You’ve welcomed me into our stores, trained me in how to be a barista … all to help me deeply understand what we do, how we do it, and the challenges and opportunities facing us,” he wrote.
Barista is a person who serves in a coffee bar.
“To keep us close to the culture and our customers, as well as to our challenges and opportunities, I intend to continue working in stores for a half day each month,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.
“I thought it was very important for me to put myself in the shoes of the partners and really understand what they do and how they do it. There were things I learned through experience in all of this. It taught me a lot,” he said in a statement.
Pune-born Narasimhan joined Starbucks as interim CEO in October and has since spent time getting to know the company — including earning a barista certification, which requires 40 hours of training in stores.
He also discussed how he plans to continue the reinvention plan laid out by Schultz over the summer.
“As the new ceo of Starbucks, I am confident that I know our business and our people well, but I will continue to learn and I’m excited to continue earning my green apron every day,” Narasimhan said.
Narasimhan was most recently CEO of Reckitt, a UK-based consumer health, hygiene and nutrition company that makes Lysol cleaner and Enfamil formula, among other products.
Prior to that, he held various leadership roles at PepsiCo, including as global chief commercial officer. He also served as CEO of the company’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations.