25 june 2011
Harish Manwani first Indian to become Unilever COO
Global FMCG giant Unilever today said it has appointed India-born Harish Manwani as its Chief Operating Officer as part of a global reorganisation in the business structure of the company to drive future growth.
The company said it has made changes to its category and go-to-market structure to further support its growth plans, especially in fast developing businesses in the emerging markets.
“As part of changes, Harish Manwani will be appointed as Chief Operating Officer with effect from September 1 and will take responsibility for all markets in order to drive further simplification and efficiency,” Unilever said in a statement.
Rotterdam-based Unilever is creating the post of COO with an eye on tapping opportunities in emerging markets. This is the first time that an Indian has risen to this level in the company to lead the business.
Previously, former HUL Chairpersons T Thomas, Ashok Ganguly, K B Dadiseth and Vindi Banga have been members of the Unilever Executive Committee (UEx).
Manwani (57) is currently the President, Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe. He had joined Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL), now Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), in 1976 and became a board member of HLL in 1995 as director responsible for the Personal Products business.
In 2004, he was appointed President and CEO of the Home and Personal Care North America business group, and in April, 2005, joined the Unilever Executive as President, Asia Africa.
Manwani is also non-executive chairman of HUL and currently a member of the Executive Board of the Indian School of Business. He is married and has two daughters.
Manwani has reached to the top of a global firm following the likes of Indra Nooyi (Chairperson and CEO PepsiCo), Vikram Pandit (CEO Citibank ), Anshu Jain (Head of Corporate & Investment Bank, Deutsche Bank) and Rakesh Kapoor (CEO Reckitt Benckiser).
Unilever said as part of the business rejig, the category organisation will be broadened to four categories reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman.
Commenting on the new re-organisation, Polman said: “Unilever now has over half its turnover in the emerging markets, where over the last 10 years, growth has been close to double digits. We have an opportunity to better support this footprint of the business, to keep our strong momentum, with a more globally aligned country and category organisation.”