Unilever’s next CEO is current president of beauty and personal care

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Alan Jope, incoming CEO (photo via Unilever)
Alan Jope, incoming CEO (photo via Unilever)
At the start of the New Year, Alan Jope will take over as CEO of the multinational consumer goods company. Having most recently led the beauty and personal care business—Unilever’s largest division—and been with company his entire career, Jope has the support of his colleagues and is expected to do well for the global company.

Alan Jope has been the company’s president of beauty and personal care for close to 4 ½ years and has been with Unilever, in a variety of roles, for 30 years. On January 1, 2019, he will become CEO.  

“After a rigorous and wide-ranging selection process, the Board is delighted to appoint Alan to the role,” ​Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers says in a press release announcing the leadership change. “Having worked for Unilever in a variety of senior management roles, Alan has a deep understanding and experience of our business, the industry, and the markets in which we operate,”​ says Dekkers (who’s been at his post as board chairman since April of 2016).

And he adds that Jope “is a strong, dynamic and values-driven leader with an impressive track record of delivering consistent high-quality performance. The Board warmly welcomes Alan to the role and wishes him every success.”

Alan Jope gets started in January

Unilever has not yet shared who will take on Jope’s current role of leading the beauty business, but the press release does note that, “a successor to the role of President, Beauty & Personal Care will be announced shortly.”

Jope is, of course, looking forward to his next challenge: “It will be a huge privilege to lead Unilever – a truly global company full of talented people, and brilliant brands,” ​he tells the press. “Over the 30 years I have worked at Unilever, I have seen the many ways in which our brands improve people’s lives, positively impacting more than 2 billion citizens every day.”

And he goes on to suggest that there are no major category changes in the works and that the company’s basic objectives will remain constant. “Our global footprint includes strong positions in many important markets for the future and our focus will remain on serving our consumers, and our other multiple stakeholders, to deliver long-term growth and value creation,” ​says Jope.

Paul Polman departs in July

Paul Polman, who has been CEO at Unilever for more than 10 years, will formally retire as CEO and as a Unilever board member at the start of the New Year. He will however remain with the company and work with Jope and others to ensure steady corporate performance and a smooth transition of leadership. In early July Polman will leave the company.

“Paul is an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever,” ​says Dekkers in comments about the outgoing CEO. “His role in helping to define a new era of responsible capitalism, embodied in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, marks him out as one of the most far-sighted business leaders of his generation.”

Saying his farewells and hinting at a next career, Polman remarks: “It has been an honour to lead Unilever over the last 10 years….I look forward to engaging with many of these partners [Unilever employees and stakeholders] – in a different capacity – to help address the many environmental and social challenges facing the world.”

Polman goes on to praise his successor, saying, “I congratulate Alan on his appointment….Having worked closely with Alan for many years, I am highly confident that under his leadership, Unilever will prosper long into the future. His appointment demonstrates the strength of Unilever’s succession planning and talent pipeline.”



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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