Who is Leena Nair, the new Anglo-Indian CEO of Chanel?

Prior to her announcement as the new Global Managing Director of famous French fashion house Chanel, Leena Nair was already a trailblazer in many ways. She is the first woman, the first Asian and the youngest director of human resources at Unilever, a company where she spent 30 years.

The British national, born in Maharashtra, India, was chosen on Tuesday to lead one of the world’s largest luxury groups, succeeding American businesswoman Maureen Chiquet, who ran Chanel for nine years until in early 2016.

The French billionaire Alain Wertheimer, 73, who owns Chanel with his brother Gérard Wertheimer, and who had taken the interim management, would move to the post of global executive chairman of the group, the company said.

“I am touched and honored to be named Global Managing Director of @ChanelOfficiel, an iconic and admired company, “Nair said on Instagram.” I am so inspired by what Chanel stands for. It is a company that believes in the freedom of creation, in cultivating human potential and in taking action to have a positive impact in the world.

“I am grateful for my long career at @Unilever, a place that has been my home for 30 years. It has given me so many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute to a truly goal-oriented organization. I will always be a proud supporter of Unilever and its ambition to trivialize a sustainable way of life. “

Who is Leena Nair?

Born in the city of Kolhapur, Nair, 52, is an engineering graduate who changed course to study management at the famous XLRI – Xavier School of Management of India in Jamshedpur. After graduation, she joined Hindustan Unilever, the Indian subsidiary of UK consumer goods giant Unilever, as a management trainee in 1992, working in the company’s factories.

Nair then rose through the ranks to become director of human resources for Hindustan Unilever in 2000, and within three years he was elevated to the role of global senior vice president at Unilever and also became the global director of diversity at Unilever. company the same year. In 2016, she moved to London to take charge of Human Resources at Unilever.

Under her leadership, where she supervised 150,000 people, Unilever achieved gender parity in global leadership, according to a Harper’s Bazaar profile released last month, which also highlighted its commitment to paying the living wage throughout the supply chain.

“Being the first woman in every job I’ve done means I can see what it means to be in a job that feels built for someone else. I always say, ‘We’re all in. the same storm, we “are not in the same boat,” she told the magazine. “My experiences have made me incredibly aware of wanting the workplace to work for everyone, and knowing that means responding to individual circumstances.”

Nair is also a non-executive board member of BT and previously served as a non-executive director of the UK government’s business, energy and industrial strategy department.

She’s a rare outsider at the helm of the tightly controlled family-owned fashion house known for its tweed tailors, quilted handbags, and No.5 fragrance.

Chanel was founded in 1910 by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel as a rue Cambon hat boutique in Paris and has become a synonym for French chic.

The group said Nair would join at the end of January and the new appointment would ensure his “long-term success as a private company.”

Chanel has fiercely defended its independence and only started reporting financial results in 2018. She said in July that she planned to increase double-digit sales this year, from their pre-market level. pandemic of $ 12.3 billion in 2019.

Indra Nooyi is his mentor and friend

Nair’s career trajectory mirrors that of Nooyi, the revolutionary Indo-American who was PepsiCo’s CEO for 12 years until 2018. Calling her a “friend and mentor,” Nair recently shared the stage with Nooyi for a talk at Unilever.

“Indra Nooyi and I discussed the challenges women face in their careers, the importance of building a community of trust and asking for help when you need it, and how. #SisterhoodMatters“said Nair.

Announcing his departure from Unilever, Alan Jope, managing director of Unilever, called Nair a “pioneer”.

“Leena has been a trailblazer throughout her career at Unilever, but no more so than in her role as HRD, where she has been a driving force behind our equity, diversity and inclusion agenda, transforming our leadership development and our preparation for the future of work, ”said Jope.

Leena is married to Kumar Nair, who runs her own financial services company. The couple have two sons, Aryan and Sidhanth.

– Additional reports by Reuters

Updated: December 15, 2021, 06:01



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