United Spirits appoints its first woman CEO Hina Nagarajan

Hina will take over as the CEO of the Bengaluru-headquartered liquor major with effect from April 1, 2021.
Hina Nagarajan
Hina Nagarajan
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India’s largest liquor company United Spirits Limited (USL) has appointed Hina Nagarajan as the Chief Executive Officer of the firm, the first woman to head the liquor major. Hina will take over as the CEO of the Bengaluru- headquartered company that sells McDowell’s and Bagpiper brands in India with effect from April 1, 2021. She will work with the current MD and CEO Anand Kripalu up to June 30, when he will step down. The USL executive team is now 40% female.

Hina Nagarajan is currently the MD, Africa Regional Markets (ARM) of Diageo. Since joining Diageo in the summer of 2018, she has led Diageo’s ARM comprising operations in Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, the Indian Ocean, Angola and several other countries.

Diageo acquired a controlling stake in USL in 2014 and in March 2020 upped its stake in the company by 0.7% more. Diageo, which sells brands such as Black Label, Vat 69, Baileys, Smirnoff, Royal Challenge, among others, now holds a controlling stake of 55.9% in the company.

The company said in a statement that under her leadership, ARM has become a significant growth driver for Diageo Africa. “She is known for her passion and drive to deliver results and her ability to build strong teams that deliver outstanding outcomes, with a strong commitment to Diageo standards and compliance. She has leveraged capabilities and synergies across the market to drive regional growth, delivering a significant step change in supply chain performance across ARM. She has also been an active and passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity in Africa and Diageo more broadly,” the statement added.

Prior to joining Diageo, Hina has spent over 30 years in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) businesses and held several senior marketing and general management positions at Reckitt Benckiser (RB), Nestle India and Mary Kay India.

Before joining Diageo, she was MD China & SVP North Asia with RB. She holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, a Commerce Honors degree from Delhi University and a Diploma in Hotel Management from Pusa Institute, Delhi, India.

USL, in a statement, also thanked Anand Kripalu for his contribution to the company. During his tenure, Kripalu led the transformation and growth of USL, with considerable improvement in operating performance – margin growth, working capital and cash generation, the company said.

Following Diageo’s acquisition of USL in 2013, he led the full integration of USL. “A strong advocate for the contribution of the alcohol industry in India, he has formed trusting relationships across the sector, driving local community initiatives and partnerships while tirelessly promoting responsible drinking. Known for his restlessness and entrepreneurial spirit, as well as his commitment to coaching and growing talent, he has championed inclusion and diversity across the business,” the company said.

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