French fashion house Chanel has named 52-yaer-old Indian-origin Leena Nair as its next global CEO.
Leena was previously an executive at Unilever (ULVR.L) where her career spanned 30 years.
She is a British national, born in India, who moved to London in 2013 as its global senior vice-president for leadership and organisation development.
She was later elevated in 2016 and became Unilever’s first female and youngest ever CHRO.
Leena studied in Holy Cross Convent school in Kolhapur and did her electronics engineering at Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli, Maharashtra.
She is a gold medallist from XLRI and is credited for several HR interventions, including ‘Career by Choice’, a programme which allows women who have fallen off the career ladder to re-join the workforce.
She said in a Linkedin and Twitter post:
“I am humbled and honoured to be appointed the global chief executive officer of Chanel, an iconic and admired company. 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 acting 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 purpose-driven organisation. I will always be a proud advocate of Unilever and its ambition to make sustainable living commonplace.”
Chanel was founded in 1910 by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel as a hat boutique on rue Cambon in Paris.
Chanel said in a statement that Leena would join at the end of January and be based in London.
It added that the new appointments would ensure its “long-term success as a private company.”
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said in a statement:
“Leena has been a pioneer throughout her career at Unilever, but no more so than in her role as CHRO, where she has been a driving force on our equity, diversity and inclusion agenda, on the transformation of our leadership development, and on our preparedness for the future of work. She has played a critical role in building our purpose-led, future-fit organisation, which is now the employer of choice in over 50 countries globally.”
Leena also serves as a non-executive board member at BT (BT.L) and has previously served as non-executive director of the British government’s business, energy and industrial strategy department.
She joins the list of Indian-origin CEO’s who deal with a multi-ethnic workforce and business spread across the world.