Indian American Niren Chaudhary to Step Down as Panera CEO; Transition to Chairman
- He joined the company before the pandemic in May 2019 and is credited with strengthening its leadership in the fast-casual segment by expanding its leading digital capabilities.
Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary will step down and transition to chairman effective July 1, the company has announced. He will be replaced by José Alberto Dueñas, currently president and CEO of Einstein Bros. Bagels. The change coincides with its move toward an IPO. Panera Brands, the fast casual chain includes Panera, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and Caribou Coffee.
Chaudhary has served as CEO of Panera since May 2019 and of Panera Brands since July 2021. Since then, “Panera Brands has strengthened its leadership in the fast casual segment by expanding its leading digital capabilities,” the company said. “Panera also increased its pace of innovation, strengthened franchisee partnerships and led the creation of a strong, people-first culture.” Panera Brands generated more than $4.8 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2022.
In a statement, Chaudhary said it was “an honor to lead Panera Brands during such a transformative time for our company.” Before joining Panera, Chaudhary worked as Krispy Kreme’s COO and international president for two years and spent time at Yum! Brands for 23 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, and an MBA in marketing from the University of Delhi. He has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He speaks four languages – Hindi, English, Dutch and German. He holds a black belt in Shotokan karate and is an avid golfer, tennis player and musician with his own rock band.
Chaudhary and is wife Aditi are parents of Aisha Chaudhary, a motivational speaker and author, and the inspiration behind Shonali Bose’s “The Sky in Pink,” starring Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar. Aisha who was born with SCID (Severe Combined Immuno-Deficiency) underwent a bone marrow transplant when she was just a few months old. As a result of the transplant, she developed pulmonary fibrosis in 2010. She passed away at 18 from the terminal illness.
Netflix released a documentary last year, titled “Black Sunshine Baby,” also pays tribute to Aisha’s life journey. is a heartfelt tribute to the life journey of Aisha. The documentary takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster through the perspectives of her parents, and her brother, Ishaan.