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Harish Manwani to retire as Unilever COO on December 31

Harish Manwani
Harish Manwani
Harish Manwani, currently Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Unilever, the world's second largest consumer goods company, will retire on December 31, 2014, after more than 38 years of service, a statement from the company said today.
 
Manwani will, however, continue in his capacity as the Non-Executive Chairman of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), the Indian subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch company.
 
Manwani, 62, joined Hindustan Unilever as a Management Trainee in 1976 and joined the HUL Board of Directors in 1995 as a Director responsible for the Personal Products business. 
 
"Under his able leadership the Personal Products business grew from a nascent business to one of the key growth engines of the company. Subsequently he enjoyed success in many roles, covering both Categories and Markets, and across many parts of the world. This included stints as SVP Global Hair Care & Oral Care; President, Home & Personal Care first of Latin America and later of North America," the statement said.
 
In 2005, he was appointed to the Unilever Executive as President, Asia, Africa, Middle East and the role later expanded to include Central and Eastern Europe. He also became the first Non-Executive Chairman of Hindustan Unilever and has overseen a period of sustained growth with the business more than doubling its size and reinforcing itself as one of India’s most admired companies.
 
As Chief Operating Officer of Unilever, Manwani's key achievement has been his leadership of the Global Markets where he established and aligned the market clusters across the world behind a clear agenda, creating a better and more integrated go-to-market organisation. It has also allowed the business to be managed more dynamically, resource allocation to be done more efficiently across markets and best practices to be transferred more seamlessly. 
 
"This has allowed Unilever to become increasingly more competitive in a tougher business environment," the statement said.
 
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Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, "Harish is an inspirational leader and leaves a remarkable legacy. He has been at my side in helping to drive the turnaround of Unilever, making this once again one of the most admired companies in the world. Over the last three years, especially as Chief Operating Officer, Harish has been instrumental in the transformation of the company. Under his leadership we have seen a step-change in our go-to-market organisation and there has been a relentless focus on flawless execution globally.  He has role-modelled the 4G sustainable growth model – Competitive, Consistent, Profitable and Responsible – which has become such a strong focal point for the Markets."
 
Paul added, "I would like to thank Harish once more for his enormous contribution.  He is both a friend and a much admired and respected business leader. In everything he has done, Harish has lived the values that make Unilever such a great company. Through his passion, commitment and endless energy, he leaves a lasting impact on the business he has served with such distinction. I will personally miss his friendship and wise counsel." 
 
Manwani said, "I am deeply grateful to all those colleagues who have helped to make the last 38 years at HUL and Unilever so memorable and fulfilling. It has been a privilege to serve such a great company. Today, Unilever is in a strong position with a clear strategy and capabilities to drive long-term responsible growth. This makes it a good time for me to make this personal transition. I look forward to working with Paul and the leadership team over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition and to further build our growth agenda."
 
Manwani was named Asian Business Leader of the Year in the prestigious CNBC Asian Leadership awards in 2008. Last year, the Singapore Government conferred the distinguished Public Service Award on him for his outstanding contribution to Singapore and building Unilever’s global presence there. 
 
Manwani is also a member of the Board of Directors of Whirlpool Corporation, Pearson and Qualcomm Incorporated. He also serves on the Board of the Indian School of Business and the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore.
 
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