Indian-Born Leena Nair appointed as CEO of French fashion house Chanel


Guwahati: Leena Nair, the first female and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Anglo-Dutch FMCG major Unilever has stepped down to join French luxury group Chanel as its Global Chief Executive Officer.

On 14 December, Nair made history when she was named the Global Chief Executive Officer for French luxury brand Chanel. With this, Nair joins the long list of Indian-origin executives who have been appointed at the helm of global companies.

She has been given the charge of ensuring Chanel’s “long term success as a private company,” the company said in a statement, recognising Nair as a “visionary leader whose ability to champion a long-term, purpose-driven agenda is matched with a consistently strong record of business outcomes.”

Born in 1969 in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur, Nair did her initial schooling at Holy Cross Convent School in the city.

She pursued her Engineering degree, specialising in Electronics and Telecommunications, from Walchand College in Sangli. She later graduated with a Gold Medal from XLRI, Jamshedpur in 1992 where she pursued MBA in Human Resources.

She started her career with Unilever as a Management Trainee and spent almost 30 years in the company – both progressing and assuming various roles.

According to media reports, she was one of the rare female employees who opted for a factory role in the company. She has worked in HUL’s factories in West Bengal’s Kolkata, Tamil Nadu’s Ambattur and Maharashtra’s Taloja.

In June 2007, she assumed the role of Executive Director of Unilever South Asia Leadership team – becoming the first woman to be appointed to the position.

Five years later, she took over as Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion. In March 2016, she became the first woman to be appointed the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope said he was thankful to her for the outstanding contribution to the company over the past three decades.

Named as one of Fortune India’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ in 2021, Nair will formally assume her new role the French luxury group Chanel on Jan 22 and will be based in London.