GF 2017 Experts

Paul Polman

Paul Polman

CEO, Unilever Group


Paul Polman has been Chief Executive Officer of Unilever since 1st January 2009. Under his leadership Unilever has set out an ambitious vision to double its size while reducing its overall environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.

Paul is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum and serves on the Board of the UN Global Compact. He is also on the Board of the Global Consumer Goods Forum.

At the invitation of the UN Secretary General, he recently served on the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons looking at the Post 2015 Development Agenda and previously acted as co-chairman of the B20 group of companies reporting to the G20 on Food Security.

He is a member of the European Resource Efficiency Platform chaired by Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, and recently served at the invitation of former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, on the International Council of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. By invitation of the Prime Minister he is currently a UK Business Ambassador.

Since 2010, Paul has been a non-executive director of the Dow Chemical Company.

In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, Paul is a former recipient of the Atlantic Council Award for Distinguished Business Leadership and the CK Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Leadership. Last year he received the UN Foundation 'Champion of Global Change' Award.

Paul began his career at Procter & Gamble in 1979, holding many senior executive positions, including Group President of Europe. He moved to Nestle in 2005, where he was the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President for the Americas.

He earned a BBA/BA from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, in 1977 and an MA Economics and MBA finance/international marketing from the University of Cincinnati in 1979. He has been awarded honorary degrees from a number of Universities, including Newcastle, Liverpool, Groningen and the University of Cincinnati.

Married with three children, Paul is a former Chairman of Perkins School for the Blind International Advisory Board and serves as President of the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust.