Who Is Rohit Jawa, HUL's Next CEO?

Jawa has been appointed for five consecutive years from June 27. He succeeds Sanjiv Mehta.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rohit Jawa is named&nbsp;as HUL's next managing director and chief executive officer. (Source: Company)</p></div>
Rohit Jawa is named as HUL's next managing director and chief executive officer. (Source: Company)

Rohit Jawa will take over as the managing director and chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever Ltd., marking the ascension of another marketer to the highest echelons of corporate leadership.

Jawa, who will succeed Sanjiv Mehta, has been appointed for five consecutive years from June 27, the company said in an exchange filing on Thursday. Currently the chief of transformation at parent Unilever Plc., the 56-year-old will also be a whole-time director at the country's largest consumer goods company from April 1 till June 26. 

He will take over as president of Unilever South Asia and join as the Unilever Leadership Executive from April 1.

Jawa will take charge of the country's largest consumer goods maker at a time when the industry grapples with the twin challenges of consumption slowdown and high inflation.

Some of his key responsibilities would include propping up the GSK portfolio to be a major growth driver for HUL, scaling up recent acquisitions in direct-to-consumer space and remaining agile to do more bolt-on acquisitions in D2C given it is a buyers' market, according to Abneesh Roy, executive director, Nuvama Institutional Equities. He will also be expected to make HUL an even bigger player in the naturals or ayurveda segment.

Roy said Jawa should also focus on keeping HUL ahead of transformation in sectors that are going through fast-paced digitisation of entire value chain, consider the entry of big-pocketed players like Reliance Industries Ltd. and the growing dominance of a clutch of low-priced challenger brands or private labels.

Jawa's previous experience in other Asian markets will come handy.

Who Is Rohit Jawa?

Jawa holds a Bachelor's degree in science from St. Stephen's College in Delhi and is a marketing MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies in New Delhi.

Jawa, who joined HUL as a management trainee in 1988, climbed through the ranks in the past 35 years at the consumer goods giant.

  • 1988: General manager, west region, Hindustan Unilever.

  • 2004: Vice president, Unilever Vietnam.

  • 2006: Vice president, laundry category, South Asia and southeast Asia, and global brand vice president.

  • 2010: Executive vice president of global marketing operations.

  • 2013: Chairperson and CEO, Unilever Philippines.

  • 2017: Chairperson, Unilever China, and EVP of north Asia region.

  • 2022: Chief of transformation, Unilever.

As executive vice president for north Asia and chairman for Unilever China, Jawa led a "significant transformation" of the market into a "competitive, profitable, and consistent business, now Unilever’s 3rd biggest globally", the company said in a statement. He also has extensive expertise in the home care, personal care and food industries.

As the chairman of Unilever Philippines, Jawa took the business to rank among Unilever's top 10 markets globally. His "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".

Marketing Talent In C-Suite

Jawa is in the league of marketers who have risen to lead a company in India. For decades, legacy consumer companies have been tapping and grooming marketing and sales talent for C-suite positions.

Saugata Gupta, managing director and chief executive at Marico Ltd.; Prabha Narasimhan, MD at Colgate-Palmolive India Ltd.; and Suresh Narayanan, chairperson and MD at Nestlé India Ltd. are some of the C-level business leaders at FMCG companies who have held sales-oriented roles or transitioned from marketing chiefs to CEO.

In October 2022, Mondelez International Inc. promoted Anil Viswanathan, a senior marketing executive, to lead the firm as managing director for Vietnam, southeast Asia.

End Of An Era

Mehta will retire from the company after a "transformational" tenure of 10 years at the helm, HUL said. He was last reappointed for five years in 2018.

Under his leadership, HUL crossed the Rs 50,000-crore turnover mark and its market capitalisation has surged more than four times from $17 billion to $75 billion, according to the company.

He also kickstarted the ‘Reimagine HUL’ agenda by leveraging data, harnessing the latest technologies and designing business models.

Mehta introduced business programmes such as ‘Dial Up the Big Q’ and ‘Winning in Many Indias’ to make the consumer goods company more consumer-centric, agile, and resilient.

With Mehta's greater thrust on technology at the core of operation, the company is now able to generate 25% of sales digitally.

HUL has seen commendable share gains across portfolio under Mehta's leadership. Mehta was also instrumental in several strategic acquisitions, including amalgamation of GSK Consumer Healthcare into HUL—one of the biggest consumer goods sector mergers in the country.


Sesa is a Principal Correspondent covering FMCG & Retai...more
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