WHO: Sameer Suneja

WHY: Suneja is poised to take over as the group chief executive director of Italy-based global confectioner Perfetti Van Melle, the world’s third largest confectionery group, making him the first Indian and the first non-Italian company chief.

WHO IS HE: Suneja, 41, is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, from where he graduated in 1994. His first job was at toothpaste maker Colgate Palmolive. He also worked with PepsiCo in India before joining Perfetti in 1997, where he has served in various roles. He was head of Perfetti’s India operations for four years, before being elevated to a global role as executive vice-president in charge of innovation and business development a year back.

ACHIEVEMENTS: Suneja played a major role in positioning Perfetti as the market leader in India with a 25% market share, ahead of competitors such as Wrigley, Parle Products Ltd, and ITC Ltd. Some of Perfetti’s brands such as Alpenliebe, Chlormint, Big Babol and Center Fresh have become household names in India and enjoy strong brand recall among children and grown-ups alike. Perfetti’s success in India had as much to do with pricing strategy as it had with creative branding and advertising. Each of Perfetti’s well-known brands has a Hindi tagline This helped Perfetti establish a connect across the population.

RATIONALE: Suneja’s elevation is the latest in a string of such promotions for Indian executives to global roles at fast moving consumer goods companies, increasingly focusing on emerging markets like India and China to boost sales at a time when growth in their traditional markets such as the US and Europe has been slowing.