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5 things to know about new Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan

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The era of Howard Schultz, Starbucks' three-time CEO, is coming to an end — again.

The world's most popular maker of mochaccinos on Thursday named Indian-American Laxman Narasimhan as its incoming chief executive. Starbucks said Narasimhan is the right leader to take over the job because he brings three decades of experience overseeing globally known companies.

Narasimhan will spend his first few weeks getting to know Starbucks by visiting stores, manufacturing plants and coffee farms, the company said. Here are five other things to know about Narasimhan.

He's quadrilingual

Narasimhan was born in Pune, India, in 1967. After earning an engineering degree in his hometown, Narasimhan left India at 24 to pursue graduate school in the U.S. He now holds master's degrees in international studies and business administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Along the way, Narasimhan, now 55, learned to speak German, English, Spanish and three different Indian dialects, British newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported. Narasimhan is married with two children, but keeps the specifics of his family private. 

He's officially starting next year

Starbucks said Thursday that Narasimhan will join the company October 1. Schultz will remain at the helm for a few months and then move to the company's board of directors. Narasimhan is slated to officially start as CEO next April. 

He's taking over Starbucks at a tumultuous time

As Narasimhan prepares to lead the company, changes are afoot at the coffee giant. Schultz is in the middle of remaking store layouts, upgrading equipment and bolstering the morale of employees, many of whom came out of the coronavirus pandemic feeling underappreciated.

Many of those workers have decided to unionize — a decision the company's management has opposed. At least 233 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year.

Amazon's efforts to undo the results of a historic union win at a Staten Island warehouse have recently fallen short, as a hearing officer for a federal labor board on Thursday rebuffed Amazon's objections to the election.

He's a longtime business executive

Narasimhan was most recently the CEO of Reckitt, the company whose brands include Clearasil skin products, Enfamil baby formula, Lysol cleaner and Woolite laundry detergent.

Before Reckitt, Narasimhan was the CEO of PepsiCo's Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations. Narasimhan also worked as a senior partner at the consulting firm McKinsey, where he focused on consumer, retail and technology practices. He now serves on Verizon's board of directors. 

He's known as a turnaround agent

The business world points to Narasimhan's time at Reckitt as an example of how he can quickly improve the financial position of a company. "He's a true operator and has the DNA of an entrepreneur," Schultz told the New York Times' DealBook.

Narasimhan went to Reckitt three years ago, at a time when the company was mired in controversy and was falling short of financial targets. It only took him six months to make meaningful changes — dismissing senior executives and selling off underwhelming brands, Bloomberg News reported. Reckitt is now on much stronger financial footing, HSBC analyst Jeremy Fialko wrote in a research note Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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