Paul Polman

Business leader
Co-author of “Net Positive”

Business leader, campaigner, co-author of “Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take”, a Financial Times Business Book of the Year. 

Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to tackle climate change and inequality.  

As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), Paul demonstrated that business can profit through purpose, marrying a long-term, multi-stakeholder model with excellent financial performance. During Paul’s tenure, shareholders saw their returns increase by 290% while the company consistently ranked 1st in the world for sustainability. 

Today Paul works across a range of organisations to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which he helped develop. This includes his work to drive systems change with Systemiq and bold new industry coalitions, including in fashion and food. He leads the UN Global Compact, is an Ambassador for the Race to Zero, and works to develop our next generation of leaders, through the Oxford University Saïd Business School, INSEAD, One Young World and others. Paul’s actively campaigns on a range of human rights issues, including promoting disability inclusion through the Valuable 500 and the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which he set up with his wife Kim. Follow him on twitter and sign up to receive his newsletter here.More on

Since the first days of The Institute, Paul has worked closely with Dov Seidman as a founding member of the board. Paul recently joined Dov for a special, two-part HOW Conversations and is a valuable contributor to HOW gatherings.

“Leaders of tomorrow need to be purpose-driven: comfortable with transparency, working in partnership, wrestling with complexity. But above all, they need to be human beings.”