Friday, Oct 07, 2022

New Starbucks CEO: Pune native set to lead coffee giant, alma mater brewing with pride

Laxman Narasimhan was CEO of Reckitt, which also makes Durex condoms, Enfamil baby formula and Mucinex cold syrup. He announced his departure from that post earlier in the day, and FTSE-listed Reckitt's shares fell 4%.

Laxman Narasimhan joined Reckitt in September 2019 and was the first external candidate to take the helm at Reckitt since it was formed in 1999. (File)

Since morning, Mohit Gundencha  — the CEO of Jombay and a member of the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) Alumni Association — is having a hard time keeping tab of the flood of messages in his various COEP-related WhatsApp groups.

This was but expected as Laxman Narasimhan, an alumni of COEP, was elevated as the new CEO of global coffee chain Starbucks, and past and present students of the association took to various media to celebrate it. Gundecha has a personal connection as he has interacted with Narasimhan multiple times in the past. Gundecha said he found the top executive both humble and sharp.

Narasimhan, who will take charge at Starbucks in October, has his roots in Pune and completed his degree in mechanical engineering from COEP in 1988. Born in Pune, he was a student of St Vincent’s School and, according to Gundecha, his association with COEP remains strong.

“Last year, as member of the alumni association, I had invited him for a virtual interaction with us. He replied to my email within a day and asked his office to set up the necessary details for the same,” Gundecha said, adding that Narasimhan talked about his journey and shared tips with students during the session.

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Even before this, Gundecha — who, after his degree in COEP, went to Stanford University to complete his higher education — had interacted with Narasimhan. His journey from Pune to the CEO of Starbucks, Gundecha said, is an inspiration and a living testament for big dreams and taking risk. “He talked about how he traveled to Mumbai multiple times to get a scholarship for Wharton. Also, when he was posted in Mexico to head PepsiCo, he took to learning Spanish to understand the market better,” the Jombay CEO added.

A cricket lover, Narasimhan had noted during his interaction how he had attended multiple matches at Lords, which is near his home in London. The incoming CEO of Starbucks also had said he is an ardent fan of rock music. Narasimhan, Gundecha pointed out, was a big believer in the India story and has a very special fondness for COEP. “Our college attracts the best of talents — it is a testament to its success,” he further said.

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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,” Sutaone said.

First published on: 02-09-2022 at 09:21:39 am
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