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Who is Leena Nair? All about the new Chanel CEO as Alain Wertheimer assumes role of Global Executive Chairman

Leena Nair has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of Chanel (Image via Leena Nair/Instagram)
Leena Nair has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of Chanel (Image via Leena Nair/Instagram)
Barsha Roy
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Leena Nair has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of luxury fashion house Chanel. The appointment came after Alain Wertheimer, the company's co-owner, assumed the role of Global Executive Chairman of the brand.

The latter has been serving as the CEO of the company since American fashion executive, Maureen Chiquet, exited the role in 2016. Chanel confirmed the new appointments in an official statement and mentioned it would ensure its "long-term success as a private company."

The fashion giant described Leena Nair as a “visionary leader” and remarked that her ability to “champion a long-term, purpose-driven agenda” is in-line with the company’s consistently strong record of business outcomes.

The company also mentioned that the executive was selected for her “global reputation for progressive and human centered leadership, delivering significant business impact”. Leena Nair comes with extensive industry experience spanning nearly three decades.

She holds the distinction of being the first female, first Asian and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of FMCG giant Unilever. The 52-year-old will reportedly join Chanel in January 2022 and will be based in London.


All about Leena Nair

Leena Nair was the first female, first Asian and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever (Image via Leena Nair/Instagram)
Leena Nair was the first female, first Asian and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever (Image via Leena Nair/Instagram)

Leena Nair is the former Chief Human Resources Officer & Member of the Leadership Executive Committee at Unilever and the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Chanel. She has been named one of the Most Powerful Women of 2021 by Fortune India.

The executive was born on June 11, 1969, in Maharashtra and attended Holy Cross Convent School in Kolhapur. She went on to study electronics engineering at Walchand College of Engineering and later graduated from XLRI – Xavier School of Management in Jamshedpur as a gold medalist.

She started working at three different factories across Kolkata, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra and became a management trainee at Unilever in 1992. She was appointed as the Factory Personnel Manager of Lipton (India) Ltd in 1993.

Three years later she was appointed Employee Relations Manager by Hindustan Unilever Limited and climbed up the ranks to become the HR manager of Hindustan Lever India by 2000. Leena Nair became the youngest Executive Director and the first woman in the Management Committee of Hindustan Unilever in 90 years in 2007.

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The following year, Nair became the first woman on Unilever's South Asian Leadership Team and was responsible for the brand's growth in markets in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. In 2013, Leena Nair became the Senior Vice President HR at Unilever as well as the Global Head of Diversity.

In 2016, she was appointed the Chief Human Resources Officer and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive in London. Leena Nair also created history by becoming the first female, first Asian and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer at Unilever.

Under her leadership, Unilever became the number one FMCG graduate employer of choice in 54 countries. Nair decided to step down from her role at Unilever after being named CEO of Chanel on December 14, 2021.

On a personal front, Leena Nair is married and is a proud mother of two sons. She also enjoys reading, running and dancing in her free time.


Edited by Mason J. Schneider
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