Home / Companies / People /  Jawa to succeed Mehta as HUL chief

Hindustan Unilever Ltd has named Rohit Jawa as the new managing director and chief executive of the consumer goods major, succeeding Sanjiv Mehta, who is retiring after a decade at the helm. Jawa’s tenure will start on 27 June.

Mehta, who will step down on 26 June, will also relinquish all positions at parent Unilever, where he was president of South Asia and a member of the Unilever Leadership Executive.

Jawa will be joining HUL as CEO-designate and whole-time director from 1 April 2023. He will also take over as president of Unilever South Asia and be a part of the Unilever Leadership Executive effective 1 April 2023, the company said in a filing to the exchanges on Friday.

Jawa, 56, is an MBA in marketing from the Faculty of Management Studies and an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi. He is currently the chief of transformation for Unilever based out of London, where he has been responsible for the transformation of Unilever since January last year.

He joined HUL directly from campus as a management trainee in 1988 in Mumbai, moving on to work across regions such as India, South East Asia, and North Asia. Jawa’s success replicates that of several HUL executives who moved on to far-flung regions helming businesses for Unilever globally.

According to the company, Jawa played a pivotal role as executive vice president for North Asia and chairman for Unilever China. He led a turnaround that resulted in Unilever China emerging as the third-largest business in Unilever’s global portfolio. Additionally, he steered Unilever Philippines as chairman, propelling it to become one of the top 10 markets for the company globally. “Jawa’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," the company said.

In FY22, HUL reported sales of 50,336 crore. India is the largest market for Unilever globally in terms of volumes and second-largest in value.

Mehta, 62, took charge as MD and CEO of HUL in October 2013, and led the business through sustained growth. “During his decade at the helm, the business crossed the 50,000-crore turnover mark, and the market capitalization of the company increased more than four times from $17 billion to $75 billion, reinforcing HUL as one of India’s most valuable businesses," HUL said.

Mehta also led acquisitions of brands such as GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Horlicks, apart from regional hair-care brand Indulekha bolstering the company’s presence in the nutrition and personal care market. “He has led the business into future growth segments with several strategic mergers and acquisitions such as the amalgamation of GSK Consumer Healthcare into HUL, one of the biggest mergers in the history of FMCG in the country," the company said. Mehta also led several transformative business programmes to make the business more consumer-centric, agile, and resilient. He championed the ‘Reimagine HUL’ agenda by leveraging data and designing business models to redefine how the company engages with consumers. Mehta spent over three decades at the consumer goods major, of which 21 years were at Unilever’s businesses in 25 countries as CEO.

“Serving the business in South Asia including Hindustan Unilever as the CEO /executive chairman/ president for the last 10 years has been an honour of a lifetime. It has been one of the longest tenures in the illustrious history of Hindustan Unilever. I also had the privilege of being the first incumbent CEO of HUL to be on the Executive Board (Unilever Leadership Executive) of Unilever," Mehta said in a post on LinkedIn on Friday.

On Friday, the company also announced the appointment of Ranjay Gulati as an independent director of the company for five years, from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2028. Gulati is a professor at Harvard Business School. He is an expert on organizational growth and, until recently, chaired the Advanced Management Program, the School’s flagship Senior Leader Executive Program.

Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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