- Leena Nair was born and raised in Kohlapur.
- She graduated from Walchand College of Engineering in Sanghli with a degree in electrical engineering.
- Nair is Hindustan Unilever’s youngest director and the company’s first woman on its management committee in 90 years.
One more Indian-origin executive has entered the list of global C-suit executives heading multinational corporations. Leena Nair has been appointed CEO of the French luxury brand Chanel.
Nair, 52, was the Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever’s first female and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO); she will join Chanel in January.
Nair attended school in Kolhapur and earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Walchand College of Engineering in Sangli, Maharashtra. She was Hindustan Unilever’s youngest director and the company’s first female member of its management committee in 90 years. “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,” she stated in a Twitter post announcing the move.
I am humbled and honoured to be appointed the Global Chief Executive Officer of @CHANEL, an iconic and admired company.— Leena Nair (@LeenaNairHR) December 14, 2021
Nair is a rare outsider at the helm of the strictly regulated family design firm known for its quilted purses, tweed suits, and Chanel No. 5 fragrances.
Leena Nair will take over Maureen Chiquet, a fashion industry veteran who was Chanel’s CEO for nine years until early 2016.
Alain Wertheimer, a 73-year-old French billionaire who owns Chanel with his brother Gerard Wertheimer and had previously served as interim CEO, will be promoted to global executive chairman.
Chanel was started in 1910 as a hat business on rue Cambon in Paris by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and evolved to become a byword for French elegance.
According to the group, Nair, who handled 150,000 employees at Unilever, will join the firm at the end of January and be located in London. It went on to say that the new hires will assure its “long-term prosperity as a private corporation.”
Nair’s employment comes at a time when the fashion industry is under pressure to be more inclusive, having risen through the ranks of Unilever after starting as a trainee on the manufacturing floor.
According to a Harper’s Bazaar profile published last month, under her leadership, Unilever achieved gender parity throughout global management, as well as her pledge to provide a decent wage across the supply chain.
Nair is a non-executive board member of BT and formerly served as a non-executive director in the British government’s department of business, energy, and industrial strategy.
Chanel has staunchly protected its independence and has just recently begun revealing financial figures. It stated in July that it anticipates sales to climb by double digits this year compared to their pre-pandemic level of $12.3 billion in 2019.