Hindustan Unilever names Rohit Jawa to succeed Sanjiv Mehta

Incumbent MD & CEO to retire after decade at helm

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The change of guard takes place at a time when the FMCG sector is facing weak rural demand due to high inflation.

The country’s largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firm, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) — often referred to as ‘the CEO factory’ — on Friday announced that Rohit Jawa will take over as its new managing director and CEO from June 27. Jawa, who will succeed incumbent Sanjiv Mehta, will join the company as CEO-designate and whole-time director from April 1.

After a transformational tenure of 10 years at the helm of HUL, Mehta will retire from the company, the company said. Jawa will also take over as president, Unilever South Asia. He will join the Unilever Leadership Executive effective April 1, it said.

The change of guard takes place at a time when the FMCG sector is facing weak rural demand due to high inflation.

Jawa (56) is currently the chief of transformation for Unilever in London. He started his career with HUL as a management trainee in 1988 and has a proven track record of sustained business results across, India, South East Asia, and North Asia. As EVP for North Asia and chairman for Unilever China, he led a significant transformation of Unilever China into a competitive, profitable, and consistent business — now Unilever’s third biggest globally.

As the chairman of Unilever Philippines, he led the business to become one of the top 10 markets for Unilever globally. “Rohit’s ability to integrate the strength of traditional markets with digital technologies and future-fit business models, positions him well to take HUL into its next growth phase,” HUL said.

Jawa did his graduation and post-graduation from Delhi University — graduation from St Stephen’s College and and an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies. He also participated in the advanced management programme at Harvard Business School.

“I am delighted to welcome Rohit back to India. He has a deep understanding of the business landscape particularly in Asia and has led the transformation of Unilever businesses in China and in Philippines. I am certain that with his astute business acumen and growth mindset Rohit will take HUL to the next level of performance,” Nitin Paranjpe, non-executive chairman, HUL, said.

Thanking Mehta for his immense and sustainable contribution to the business, Paranjpe said, “Sanjiv with his foresight has led HUL to become a high-performing and future-fit business. He has been an integral part of the Unilever Leadership Executive and has driven the South Asia growth agenda as the president of the market cluster.”

Mehta (62), had taken over as the MD & CEO of HUL in October 2013, leading the business through a period of sustained growth.

During his decade at the helm, the business crossed the `50,000-crore turnover mark and the company’s market capitalisation increased more than four times from $17 billion to $75 billion, reinforcing HUL as one of India’s most valuable businesses, the company said.

He has been a proponent of long-term value creation anchored by growth, high performance anatomy and distinctive capabilities and introduced several transformative business programmes such as ‘Dial Up the Big Q’ and ‘Winning in Many Indias’ to make the business more consumer-centric, agile, and resilient.

In order to make the business more future-fit, Mehta kickstarted the ‘Reimagine HUL’ agenda by leveraging data, harnessing latest technologies, and designing business models to redefine how HUL engages with consumers, customers, and the way the business operates.

He was also instrumental in HUL undertaking several strategic mergers and acquisitions, including the amalgamation of GSK Consumer Healthcare into HUL, one of the biggest FMCG mergers in the country.

He actively championed the diversity agenda, making HUL an even more inclusive organisation, the company said. Welcoming Jawa as his successor, Mehta wrote in a Linkedin post, “I am excitedly looking forward to my next inning and will share more about it when possible. Till then, I would like to quote Robert Frost’s famous lines… ‘Miles to go before I sleep’.”

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First published on: 11-03-2023 at 06:15 IST
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