The Business Women
Where Business Runs Around Her

Leena Nair: Redefining Leadership at Chanel and Beyond


Leena Nair, the esteemed British-Indian business leader, has ascended to the helm of Chanel, a global symbol of luxury and elegance. Her remarkable journey from Maharashtra, India, to the zenith of the fashion industry exemplifies a dedication to excellence and visionary leadership.

Early Life and Educational Journey

Born on June 11, 1969, in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Leena Nair’s educational odyssey began at Holy Cross Convent High School, followed by The New College Kolhapur. Pursuing her passion for learning, she earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering from Walchand College of Engineering, Sangli, Maharashtra. Furthering her education at XLRI- Xavier School of Management, she graduated with distinction, laying a solid foundation for her future endeavours.

The Unilever Legacy

Nair’s illustrious career commenced at Unilever, where she swiftly rose from a summer intern to a management trainee at Hindustan Unilever in 1992. Over two decades, she held various roles across factories, sales, and corporate headquarters, culminating in her appointment as Executive Director HR at Hindustan Unilever Limited in 2007. Her relocation to London marked a new chapter, leading to her historic role as Unilever’s first female, Asian, and youngest Chief Human Resources Officer in 2016.

Steering Chanel into the Future

Assuming the role of CEO at Chanel in 2021, Nair’s tenure has been characterised by hands-on leadership and strategic vision. Engaging extensively with retail locations, manufacturing sites, and regional offices, she has collaborated closely with key stakeholders to drive successful launches and expansions, notably the eco-focused N°1 de Chanel line. Emphasising personalised experiences, she introduced private salons for top clients, cementing Chanel’s commitment to exclusivity and excellence.

Leadership and Advocacy

Beyond her corporate responsibilities, Nair’s impact resonates across various spheres. Serving as a Non-Executive Board Member at BT plc and a member of the Trust Board at Leverhulme Trust, she contributes to shaping global agendas on education, gender, and work. Her advocacy for women in business is underscored by her recognition in Forbes India, The Great British Businesswoman’s Awards, and Fortune India, among others.

Personal Journey and Legacy

Nair’s personal journey, marked by familial support and professional triumphs, serves as an inspiration to many. Married to Kumar Nair, a financial services entrepreneur, and a proud mother of two sons, she epitomises the transformative potential of perseverance and dedication.


In conclusion, Leena Nair’s ascent from humble beginnings to the helm of Chanel epitomises resilience, innovation, and compassionate leadership. Her influence extends beyond the fashion industry, leaving an indelible mark on global business and societal advocacy. Nair’s journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of determination and vision, inspiring future generations to strive for excellence and impact.

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