Leena Nair, chief HR officer, Unilever

Nair's purpose is “to ignite the human spark in everyone – to build a better business, and a better world”

Leena Nair is the first female, first Asian, and youngest-ever CHRO of Unilever and member of its executive leadership team, which is responsible for delivering Unilever’s business and financial performance.

She bears overall responsibility for the human capital of Unilever, which operates across multiple regulatory and labour environments in 190 countries. She ensures the company has the right people, in the right roles, with the right capabilities and mindset to deliver high business performance. Nair also heads the diversity and inclusion agenda for the organisation.

In 2007 she became the first woman in the management committee of Hindustan Unilever in 90 years heading HR. She was also appointed the first woman in Unilever's south Asia leadership team a year later, which is responsible for Unilever's growth in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Key external positions

  • Non-executive board member – Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy of the United Kingdom
  • Non-executive board member – BT
  • Member of the board – Leverhulme Trust
  • Advisors of the International Council – Bocconi University, Italy
  • Steering committee member of the Global Future Council on New Social Contract, World Economic Forum (2018 – present)
  • Steering committee member of The Future of Education, Gender and Work, World Economic Forum (2017 – present)
  • Member of the Women’s Network Forum FTSE mentoring programme (2017 – present)
  • Member of networks including Winmark, CHRO Roundtable, HR50, Financial Times 125, Spencer Stuart Directors’ Forum (2014 – present)
  • Chairman of Unilever Industries Pvt, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever (2010-2014)

Awards and recognitions

  • Recognised by Queen Elizabeth II as one of the accomplished Indian Business Leaders in the UK (2017)
  • Top 20 list of BAME leaders by the Financial Times (2017 and 2016)
  • Business Today list of 25 most powerful women in business for seven consecutive years
  • UK First Women Award in the category of Retail and Consumer (2015)
  • Ranked among the 50 most influential women in India by Verve Magazine
  • 'Seasoned HR Professional' by the National HRD Network (2010)
  • Conferred 'HR Champion' by Hindustan Times and 'HR Leader of the Year' by STAR News

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Leena Nair's LinkedIn page

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @LeenaNairHR