MUMBAI: UnileverBSE -0.53 % has elevated Ranjay Radhakrishnan as senior vice-president for Europe, making him the third Indian in the top human resources team of the world's second-largest consumer products company.
Earlier this year, Leena Nair, then Hindustan Unilever's HR head and executive director, moved to the parent firm as global senior vice-president for leadership and organisation development, while Sumeet Salwan was elevated as senior vice-president, HR, of the North America region.
Industry observers say the three are among the strong contenders to take over from Unilever HR head Doug Baillie, 58, when he retires.
"Now there are three Indians at work level 5 in HR and the prospect of one of them moving to the next level and becoming the global HR head for Unilever seem extremely high," Vibhav Dhawan, managing partner atPositive Moves Consulting, said.
MS 'Vindi' Banga, former HULBSE -0.53 %chief executive, said, "Hindustan Unilever has world class managers. They deal with varied challenges across the diversity of cultures within India. I am not at all surprised to see three of them in very senior roles."Hindustan UnileverBSE -0.53 % confirmed Radhakrishnan's elevation.
An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Radhakrishnan started his Unilever career more than two decades ago at its Indian unit, moving on to Singapore later as vice-president (talent).
The number of Indian managers has been increasing steadily at Unilever over the past few years. More than 200 managers currently serve the company globally in key leadership roles.
The development also puts the spotlight on a trend among multinationals to groom many Indians as people managers. At least half a dozen Indians have moved to global human resource roles in the past two years, thanks to their experience in a culturally diverse country like India. This makes them great people managers to deal with a multi-ethnic workforce spread across the world.
A year ago, Levi Strauss & Co named Varun Bhatia as its chief human resources officer. Recently, Pavan Bhatia took charge as senior vice president - global talent acquisition & deployment at PepsiCo's head quarters after serving as chief people officer at PepsiCoGreater China Region.
Shubhro Mitra, former head of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, has become regional chief HR officer at Axa Asia, and Sujata Tyagi, former HR director at L'Oreal India, has become the firm's HR director for Asean & India. GE's former HR head Atul Joshi too has migrated to Novartis' consumer business as regional head-HR, Asia-Pacific.