Leena Nair And The French Luxury Brand “Chanel”
Leena Nair, 54 is a female Indian Business Executive and current CEO of Chanel, the popular French based luxury brand. Nair has an incredible journey so far with being in association with top leading enterprises. Her successful career is inspirational and transformational for her origin country as it is a sign of pride and empowerment of women’s stature at a global level.
Born and brought up in a small town named Kolhapur in India, Nair used to attend school by riding bicycle for 12 km every day. After completing his primary and secondary education, she opted for electronics and telecommunication engineering from Walchand College of Engineering, Maharashtra (India). But soon her interest took a right turn and she decided to pursue her degree in Human Resource Management from Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur. She passed out from Xavier as a gold medallist.
At that time everything was not as easy as it is today. Less opportunities were there and more than that prevalence of backward mindset and orthodoxy in the form of norms & values were the biggest barrier for the development of woman. Nair turned the tables and became one among the handful of women who wrote their own destiny and living a successful life on their own terms.
In 1992 when she started working for Hindustan Unilever, she was an ordinary management trainee but in less time, climbed up to ranks. She served there as the Executive director, Senior Vice president for leadership and organisational development and Chief Human Resources officer and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive. In 2016, when she rose at the position of Chief HR officer she was also titled with “first Asian, first female, youngest ever” officer to held that place. Nair has an incredible track record at Unilever for managing human capital at distinct labour oriented environments spanning into 190 countries.
The journey at Unilever for Nair was not only about getting ranks but creating an impact small or big from every sort of work she does. In an interview she laid down an emphasis on the purpose behind choosing a career is to make an impact and creating a legacy to leave behind.
Nair’s career took a flight so high in December 2021, when she was appointed as a Global CEO of the prestigious leading French luxury brand- Chanel. It was a moment of great accomplishment for her which she also manifested on Twitter. She wrote, “I am humbled and honoured to be appointed the Global Chief Executive Officer of @CHANEL, an iconic and admired company.”
She further added, “I am so inspired by what @CHANEL stands for. It is a company that believes in the freedom of creation, in cultivating human potential and in acting to have a positive impact in the world.” Also, with new beginnings with CHANEL, she had to say goodbye to her 30 years of career at Unilever which was equally heart wrenching for her as it was for her colleagues at the organisation.
A small town girl from Kolhapur, made her place in the top leading enterprises because of the choices she opt for herself. While being open up about her choices, Nair shared an incident when her father got to know about the decision for opting human resources and leaving behind one of the prestigious careers in engineering. However, Nair followed her instincts and reached where the world could dream of.
Nair is designated with the “Great British Businesswoman Role Model” title. She was also featured in Fortune India’s Most Powerful Women 2021 list. In 2022, she was listed in Forbes India’s top Self-made Women. Also, in 2017, she was recognised by the Queen Elizabeth II as one of the most accomplished Indian Business Leaders in United Kingdom.