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August 2, 2013

Success story of Harish Manwani (HUL)

Success Story of Harish Manwani (HUL)

Harish Manwani is the Chief operating officer at Unilever, non-executive Chairman of Hindustan Unilever and a director of Whirlpool Corporation. Harish Manwani is a man who believes in execution; his proficient methods of conduct have helped him successfully run a little over 40 percent of Unilever’s business in several parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (AAC) and West Asia.  

Early Life and Education:

Harish Manwani was born in the year 1954 in India. He graduated with honors from the prestigious Mumbai University, Maharashtra; and has also earned a Master’s Degree in Management Studies from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies. Also, he has also attended the AMP (Advanced Management Program) at the Harvard Business School.

From Trainee to COO:

Harish Manwani joined Hindustan Lever in 1976 as a management trainee.  With his hard work, dedication and leadership qualities, Harish Manwani has finally climbed up the Unilever Ladder. Though, he made a humble start as a management trainee at HLL (Hindustan Lever Ltd.)  within duration of 35 years, he has become the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of HUL (Hindustan Unilever).

In 1995, Harish Manwani was included as a board member at HLL as a director, responsible for the Products dealing in Personal Care business of Hindustan Lever Ltd. In 2001, he was sworn in as the new Senior Vice President of Global Hair Care and Oral Care. Also, he moved to UK .He was appointed as the CEO and President of the Home and Personal Care North America business group in the year 2004. Shortly, in April 2005, Harish Manwani joined the Unilever Executive Committee as President of Asia Africa Division.

On September 1, 2011, Harish Manwani was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of HUL. As per a statement by Unilever, he was assigned the responsibility for all Markets in order to drive to speed to market behind further simplifications and efficiency. It was for the first time that an Indian had risen to such an eminent position to lead the business of a prestigious firm like Unilever.

Besides, he is also an active member of the Executive Board at the Indian school of Business. He also serves on the Supervisory Board of ING Groep NV. He is also a member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee of Hindustan Unilever.

Leverites Culture:

HUL insists all its management trainees to train in rural villages of India for duration of at least six months. It has been a Leverites tradition, which is non-negotiable. Despite the fact that many bright trainees do not willingly want to pass through the grind, Unilever has not made any exceptions for anybody. He believes the trainees should be as comfortable with working on the dusty streets of rural India, as they are in the corridors of the company head quarters in London. He believes that   rural postings are very important. He recapitalizes the things working in rural India has made him realize, firstly his approach became more practical. He had a fine opportunity to revise, adapt and apply whatever he had been taught at the Business School. Secondly, it gave him an opportunity to develop real life leadership qualities, i.e. being off the high horse and being a part of the team. Lastly, he learnt how to respect people and their needs.

Mantra to Success:

Harish Manwani is a man of action. He believes in taking the first seat view of the situation. On several occasions, he has been seen to go directly visit the stores and watch customers pick up products. He believes that it is the only way to stay connected to the people and understand their frame of needs. Further, he thinks that churning out papers in an air conditioned office is of little use. He exclaims that, one can’t be a good leader, if one is just not a good follower. Thus, he believes in keeping his eyes and ears open to genuine criticism and suggestions; which are vital for the growth of any individual or organization.

In a recent Business Standard interview, he says “Think Local, Act Local”, which is contrary to “Think Global, Act Local”. He justifies it by saying that the company needs to focus on the locals before thinking of going global.

Altering the Traditions:

Chief Operating Officer was a newly created position at Unilever. This century old company deviated from its tradition, just to promote Harish Manwani for his remarkable contributions to Unilever. It is believed that COO position is only second to the position of CEO. Paul Polman is the CEO of the multi-billion dollar company “Unilever”.

Unilever has for long eyed the market for the growth of the company, it is sure that Harish Manwani’s supreme skills to understand the beat of the market and capability tap it at the right moment are an asset for the company. Polman, CEO of Unilever himself accepts that, emerging markets have made a significant contribution to the organization’s double digit growth.

When he presided over as the regional President of AAC, the company witnessed a growth of as high as 18.7 percent, with 52% of revenues coming in from developing & Emerging Economies (D&E) of the World. This was the highest growth among the three regions of the Unilever Universe; the other two being Western Europe and the Americas.

Personal Life:

Harish Manwani himself confesses the fact that his life revolves around his career. He is married and has two daughters.  Among his friends and relatives, he has been known as a people’s person and a go-getter. He has been an avid golfer and occasionally enjoys a game of Bridge.  His exceptional entrepreneurial qualities and optimism have made him rise up to the top of a global firm.

Unfortunately, Harish Manwani was also one of the hostages at the Taj Hotel, Mumbai along with other corporate honchos during the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Awards & Achievements:

In 2008, Harish Manwani received the CNBC Asia Business Leader of the year award. Also, on March 26th 2013, he was conferred for a Public Service Medal (Friends of Singapore) 2012 from the President of Republic of Singapore in a ceremony held at the presidential residence for his immense contribution to the economy of Singapore. Also, Harish Manwani was appointed on the Board of Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), which is Singapore’s leading government agency for economic strategy and planning.

Tags : Harish Manwani, CEO, unilever, hindustan unilever, success story

About Kanika

I have been writing for almost 3 years now for various clients