Harish Manwani joined Unilever as a management trainee in 1976; he is now the company's chief operating officer.

Why you should listen

Harish Manwani is a Unilever man through and through. Having joined the company in 1976, he imagined that his time would be taken up with selling soap and soup. Not so, his then-boss told him. "You're here to change lives." It sounded far-fetched, but as the years went on and as he moved through the ranks of the corporation, Manwani began to understand his mentor's wisdom. Those words remain close to his heart even in his current role as the company's chief operating officer.

Now based in Singapore, Manwani graduated from Mumbai University and has a master's degree in management studies; he also attended the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School. He is the non-executive chairman of Hindustan Lever and a member of the executive board of the Indian School of Business.

What others say

“Harish Manwani is a strong believer in leading by vision. “A vision is not about setting targets, but about changing behaviours and motivating people to go the extra mile,” says Manwani. “A good leader must have the ability to define a compelling destination combined with a sharp operational focus on the ‘here and now’. That is key to delivering long-term success.” Yet, Manwani admits that he had done little long-term career planning, choosing instead to focus his full efforts on whatever tasks he was assigned at the time.” — HQ Asia

Harish Manwani’s TED talk