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Leena Nair: The first female, first Asian, youngest ever CHRO of Unilever

Leena Nair, a British Indian business executive and first female CEO of the French luxury brand Chanel and the first female and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever is 52 year old lady.

French luxury group Chanel has named Leena Nair, the chief human resource officer of Unilever as its global CEO. This makes Nair the second Indian Origin woman to take over as a global CEO after Indra Nooyi.

She joins the ranks of Indian Origin executives like Sundar Pichai, Parag Agrawal and Satya Nadela who are at the helm of Top global companies. A British national, born in India, Nair is a rare outsider at the helm of the tightly controlled family fashion house which was founded in 1910 by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel as a hat boutique on rue Cambon in Paris and grew to become a byword for French chic.

Nair, who studied at Holy Cross Convent School in Kolhapur and passed out as an engineer in electronics and telecommunications from Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli, opted to pursue HR, much to the dismay of her father (an industrialist from Kolhapur). That was a major turning point for Nair, who decided to follow her heart. After joining HUL as a management trainee in 1992, Nair worked in various roles in factories, sales and the corporate headquarters in HUL.

She brought about several changes and rose through the ranks to become executive director HR. In 2016, she went on to become the first woman as well as Asian and the youngest-ever CHRO of Unilever and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive, with responsibility for the company’s 150,000 people across more than 100 countries globally.


In her social media posts, Nair described India-born former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi as a friend and mentor.

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