Starbucks’ new CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, decided he needed some on-the-job experience before taking over the reins of the company on March 20. But instead of just poring over spreadsheets, the business leader decided to don a barista’s green apron and pour drinks. It’s a job he intends to keep now that he’s in charge of the coffee giant.
Ahead of taking on the CEO role, Narasimhan spent six months on a deep dive into all aspects of the company’s operations, from their supply chain to how the baristas work the drive-thru. He told the Wall Street Journal the sheer number of cup-and-lid combinations baristas had to manage was staggering.
“It was startling to me, how many we had,” he told the Journal. “We’ve got things to do to become more disciplined.”
Now that he has earned his barista certification and put it into practice, the new CEO plans to keep his skills sharp by visiting a different store for a half day once a month as a barista — and he told the Journal that he expects senior executives to do the same.
Narasimahn explained to employees that his time in the stores helped him better understand what works well, and what areas still need improvement in Starbucks locations around the world. In a letter to Starbucks employees, he thanked the many people who helped immerse their new boss into the company’s culture.
“You’ve welcomed me into our stores, trained me in how to be a barista, taught me about the work in our support centers, immersed me in our brand, our supply chain, and manufacturing business, and you’ve introduced me to our agronomists and farmers in Origin where our coffee is sourced – all to help me deeply understand what we do, how we do it, and the challenges and opportunities facing us,” Narasimhan wrote in a letter shared on Starbucks’ website.
Starbucks has faced numerous challenges recently, including trying to hold onto employees in a difficult job market. In 2021, the company vowed to raise its minimum wage to at least $15 an hour in 2022 to help bring in more workers.
At the same time, Starbucks also saw a group of employees from Buffalo, New York, work together to form a union to help improve working conditions and compensation. According to CNBC, the union movement at Starbucks has grown to 190 locations.
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