It’s nothing but a delight to witness Indians helming on major roles in global industries and clinching milestones.
In that regard, meet Indian-origin Leena Nair who made headlines around the world last year when she was appointed as the Global Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the world-renowned French luxury group Chanel by becoming the first-ever female and the youngest CEO of this luxury brand.
She is the very first Indian to clamp the role of global CEO of a premium luxury brand, replacing Alain Wertheimer, who held it since 2016 after Mauren Chiquet departed from the company.
Chanel is a powerhouse fashion brand, with 310 boutiques worldwide pioneering the best of the best in women’s fashion and with a net worth of $9 billion.
Prior to this, Leena who’s 30 year career at Unilever established her reign in the industry by gaining a myriad of accolades and also stamped her name as the first female, first Asian and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at FMCG major Unilever. She has also previously served as a non-executive director of the British government’s business, energy and industrial strategy department.
Leena’s 30 Years Voyage at Unilever
Leena began working as a management trainee with Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) in 1992. She emerged swiftly because of her passionate leadership abilities and tenacity, and in 2013 she was appointed as the senior vice president of human resources at Unilever.
In the same year, she was named global head of diversity. Leena relocated to London in 2016 and enrolled in the Unilever Leadership Executive programme. Later, she was named Unilever’s first female, Asian, and youthful Chief Human Resource Officer. She worked in this position for more than five years.
In her 30 years with the brand, Unilever was honoured as the top graduate employer in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Industry across 54 nations. Furthermore, she put in a lot of effort to make Unilever a diverse, inclusive, and compassionate company.
She Has Clinched Numerous Accolades Throughout Her Career
Some of her most noteworthy accomplishments include Role Model of the Year at The Great British Businesswoman’s Awards 2021, appearing on Fortune India’s Most Powerful Women’s List and being recognised by Queen Elizabeth II as one of the most accomplished Indian business leaders in the United Kingdom.
Recently, Vogue named Leena as one of the Vogue 25 Most Influential Women in 2022. Vogue cited “Since arriving from Unilever (where Nair was the company’s youngest-ever chief human resources officer, as well as the first woman and first Asian person to hold the role), the British Indian executive has already enjoyed success at the French fashion house, with the company seeing double-digit growth so far this year.”
Looking at her incredible achievements meant working hard and smart!
Leena was born in Kolhapur, India with not many educational facilities and grew up having lots of norms, taboos and barriers around her about what girls can do and can’t do, the setbacks only pushed her to better herself by getting the best education.
“It is very important to dream big. Do not let others tell you, rather you determine how big your dreams should be. Don’t get discouraged if people doubt your abilities, because if I would have, I would have not reached where I am.” Leena expressed.
Unwavering dedication and an undying passion to grasp as much knowledge as possible, took her far and she is where she is today due to her strong desire and determination to succeed and yes, she made it! And we’re proud of her accomplishments.
Aim high enough and dream big!