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Head and heart: igniting the human spark – Leena Nair

About This Episode

Leena Nair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for the global giant Unilever. Her work sits at the heart of a team of more than 150,000 people, serving two and a half billion customers – one of the many reasons why she speaks of a personal purpose to “ignite the human spark for a better business and better world”.

And igniting a spark is something she knows a good deal about. She has been described as a ‘leader of many firsts’ not least since she was appointed the first female, first Asian and youngest ever Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever.

Of this experience she says, “In every job I’ve done, I’ve been the first woman ever to do the job, be in the night shifts or the production work. You’ve got to be courageous, not only embrace the trailblazing, but also bring your own take on it.”

Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever

Leena was appointed Chief Human Resources Officer and a member of the Unilever Leadership Executive in March 2016. The first female, first Asian, youngest ever CHRO of Unilever and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE), which is responsible for delivering Unilever’s business and financial performance.

Prior to her current role, Leena served as Global Senior Vice President for Leadership and Organisational Development and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion. In that role, she was instrumental in driving Unilever’s employer brand to a record high and in step-changing the Diversity agenda to industry leadership. Leena also spearheaded the creation of a world-class leadership centre in Singapore and led the launch of key technology innovations which will significantly simplify Unilever’s core HR offerings.

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Lockdown List

What is a book that has changed your life?

The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying

What are you watching at the moment?

The US Open! We are such big tennis fans, it’s always exciting when the Grand Slams are on.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My mother, she was my moral compass and taught me to how to live with courage and conviction.

In one sentence, describe your ‘new normal’.

Everything is solvable!

What is your best tip for life?

Prioritise your sleep, it will give you super powers!

A quote for life (if you have one)

Be the one to ignite the spark.

What five tracks would make up your lockdown soundtrack?

Head and Heart – Joel Corry
Never Seen the Rain – Tones and I
Juice – Lizzo
Love On Top – Beyonce
Tum Jo Mil Gaye ho – Mhd Raffi

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