After close to eight years as Managing Director and CEO of United Spirits Limited (USL), Anand Kripalu will be stepping down from his role, effective June 30, 2021, to pursue the next phase of his career. Under Anand’s leadership, USL experienced a significant improvement in its operating performance – margin growth, cash generation, and working capital. He also led the entire integration of USL, post the company being acquired by Diageo, and reignited the market portfolio strategy. Diageo India is the country’s leading beverage alcohol company and a subsidiary of global leader Diageo plc.
Anand will be succeeded by the Diageo’s Managing Director Africa Regional Markets, Hina Nagarajan. Hina will also join USL as CEO-Designate on April 1, 2021. In accordance with the applicable law and upon receipt of necessary approvals, Hina will take over as Managing Director and CEO of USL on July 1, 2021, and will also join the Diageo Executive Committee, reporting to John Kennedy, President Diageo Europe & India. She will move to Bangalore in April 2021 and will work closely with Anand to ensure a smooth transition.
With this role, Hina becomes the first woman to head the INR 28,500 Cr-alcobev (alcoholic beverage) behemoth. She joined Diageo in 2018 and has since then led Diageo’s Africa Regional Markets (ARM) comprising operations in Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Angola, the Indian Ocean, and several other countries. Hina has over three decades of experience in CPG businesses and held several senior marketing and general management positions at Reckitt Benckiser (RB), Nestlé India, and Mary Kay India. Prior to her role at Diageo, she was MD China & SVP North Asia with RB.
Commenting on the appointment, Vijay Rekhi, Former Managing Director and President of USL said, “If a country can be run by a woman so can a company, be it liquor or armaments.”
Rekhi added, “The function and art of management are gender-neutral. What is critical is how effectively an organization is built and driven for its objectives and kept future-ready by the leader.”
Hina’s vision became a significant growth driver for Diageo Africa. Her commitment to Diageo standards and compliance is validated by her passion and ability to deliver results and build strong teams that deliver outstanding results. Hina has leveraged capabilities and synergies across the market to drive regional growth, delivering a significant step-change in supply chain performance across ARM and has also been a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion, actively involved in driving the cause across Africa and Diageo more broadly.
Given Kripalu’s accomplishments, vision, and agenda, Hina appears to be the right successor to carry forward his legacy. Beyond immense contribution to USL’S revenue and market strategy, Anand championed diversity and inclusion across the business. The executive team at USL has 40% women representation and Anand’s efforts so far have paved the way for successful inclusion, both at the leadership level as well as the organizational level. Anand is also dedicated to coaching and growing talent.
In his tenure with USL, Anand remained a strong advocate for the positive impact of the alcohol industry in India, relentlessly promoted responsible drinking, and also formed trusting relationships across the sector, driving local community initiatives and partnerships.