Leadership In The New Age – Mr. Sanjiv Mehta, MD And CEO, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) In Inauguration Of Headstart Guest Lecture Series At IIFT

IIFT started their headstart guest lecture series with the FMCG giant HUL on 1st March 2016. Mr. Sanjiv Mehta talked about his journey from being a little boy from Mumbai who wanted to be a cricketer to becoming the CEO of biggest FMCG Company in India.

Even before joining the corporate world after doing his CA, following his father’s footsteps, he was clear about his goal in life that he wanted to join a corporate house  where he will get ample opportunities to grow. Looking back at the Bhopal crisis that took place during his tenure at Union Carbide, he accredited his transition from a boy to a man to this tragedy.

After that, he went to describe his various roles and responsibility he held in Unilever throughout the world. Starting footprint in Arabia, turning around the business in Bangladesh, working through cultural differences in the Philippines etc. he realized that every weakness can be turned into a strength with changing times and perspectives.

According to Mr. Mehta, the true role of business in society is to tackle the problems the society is facing by incorporating technology into business strategy and values. Every responsible business in today’s world targets for a sustainable living. He said: “The world is not about OR but it is about AND”. There are many issues confronting us and we can solve many just by a small act of hand wash. He said that the company believed in the idea of making a difference to the society.

“We will prosper only when the world prospers “. We need to create convergence between business goals and society goals.

Unilever has 8 clusters throughout the world and 4 global categories under each cluster, all connected by a common purpose and values. 2 billion people use Unilever products which has more than 400 brands and presence in 190 countries more than the membership of UN. Unilever is a purpose driven value led company which makes sustainable living common

Unilever has been reinventing itself according to needs of time and requirements of the world and currently the 2 main focus area for any business segment in Unilever are to increase the social impact by having a green supply chain and using green farm outputs for its products and secondly to reduce environmental impact by shifting to renewable energy resources achieving both the goals by 2020. The responsibility comes on the business itself and this responsibility need not be separated from the CSR activities of the business model. Like to use almost all HUL products, consumers need water. Hence, it makes perfect sense for a company to make sure that people have a ready access to fresh water, which fulfills the altruistic motive as well.

Talking about HUL he said we think Indian, we live Indian and we breathe Indian. Our ethos is completely Indian even though we are a Global company. Going ahead he discussed the Shakti Amma project by HUL which has expanded to include over 70,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs (Shakti Ammas) and 48,000 Shaktimans. The project was successful because HUL was not only focusing on the profits received through these Shakti ammas but also took care that the Shakti ammas were receiving enough compensation to build a better life for themselves and their families. Apart from that, Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital was started by HUL in partnership with various doctors with an aim to provide essential healthcare services to people of Bangladesh which has helped more than 2.5 lakh affected people since its start.

He discussed the Project Sunlight and concluded his talk by saying: “There is never been a better time to create a better future”.

This article has been written by Deepti Singh Chauhan student MBA-IB (2015-17) and Executive Member Senior Media Committee IIFT Delhi.

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