Paranjpe is appointed COO of Unilever

Mumbai: Nitin Paranjpe has become the second Indian to be appointed as COO of Unilever. The first Indian who made it to the global post was Harish Manwani, who retired five years ago.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer products major has also elevated Hindustan Unilever (HUL) CMD Sanjiv Mehta as president, South Asia, Unilever and member of Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE), from May 1. Mehta will continue to helm HUL as CMD.

The move demonstrates the strategic importance of India to Unilever. India grew 2.5 times in the last 10 years. It also became the second-largest country for the $60-billion Unilever, after the US, ahead of Brazil.

Paranjpe, 56, is president, foods & refreshments, Unilever, a post he has held since January 1, 2018, and will be filled in by Hanneke Faber. In his new role, Paranjpe will be responsible for Unilever’s go-to-market organisations, driving and co-ordinating in-year performance across countries in line with the organization’s divisional strategies.

In a statement, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said: “Today’s increasingly fragmented consumer, channel and media environment requires us to operate with more speed and agility than ever before. With his deep knowledge and experience of our markets, Nitin is ideally placed to work with me and the Unilever Leadership Executive to drive our performance and help deliver our growth ambitions.”

A mechanical engineer and an MBA in marketing from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Paranjpe joined the Indian subsidiary (then Hindustan Lever) in 1987, and rose to become CEO & MD of the company within two decades. He is largely credited to have brought back profitable growth focus back to HUL. Paranjpe, whose personal belief in setting stretched targets is well known, had told TOI in an interview, “As a leader, I think we must constantly raise the bar and not be satisfied with what we’ve been doing. There is always a scope to get better. Improvement will happen when you have a healthy dissatisfaction and there’s a healthy goal.”

Mehta, 58, has delivered on the ‘4-G’ growth model embracing consistent, competitive, profitable and responsible growth. , while also reinventing its customer development strategy and adopting the WIMI (Winning in Many Indias) structure, creating 14 consumer clusters with distinct strategies for each cluster. The company has also set up 15 CCBTs (Country Category Business Teams), empowering the teams to make the business nimble and agile. There have been several ticks on the M&A front as well, with HUL acquiring brands like Indulekha and Adityaa Milk. The proposed merger of GSK Consumer Healthcare (Horlicks, Boost) with HUL, is an added feather in Mehta’s cap.

“Sanjiv has been one of our most impressive general managers with a consistent track record of growth and execution in high growth and emerging markets. He has been instrumental in unlocking strong performance in South Asia, delivering exceptional top and bottom line growth. I look forward to welcoming Sanjiv onto the ULE, where he will add invaluable insights and leadership,” said Jope.