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Episode 3 : Paul Polman: The ‘Accidental CEO’

October 12, 2021 | [wpv-post-taxonomy-iterator taxonomy="season" field="views|shortcode|single|wpv-taxonomy-title"][wpv-taxonomy-title][/wpv-post-taxonomy-iterator] | 45:50

You might know Paul Polman as the former CEO of Unilever with a reputation as one of the most purpose-driven business leaders of the past 30 years. In this episode you will hear a different side of Paul—one that reveals how a Dutch boy who once thought he would enter the priesthood would later, and by accident, take on the mantle of responsible business.

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Paul Polman’s life could have been completely different. His routes to the priesthood and medicine were blocked by circumstances outside his control. The stop in Cincinnati hardly conjured visions of a blockbuster business career. But this “accidental CEO” made the most of every opportunity, leaving behind proof of concept that sustainability and business success are not diametrically opposed ideas.


When he became CEO of Unilever in 2008, he fully committed to the idea of purposeful business. Paul was particularly irked by short-termism and the idea that capitalism created great wealth for some, but not for others. “You cannot have sustainable companies if you don’t have sustainable people,” he notes.


In this episode of 10x Bolder, you’ll also hear about his meandering path to leadership; how growing up with five siblings led to kitchen habits he maintains to this day; and his father’s less-than-welcoming reaction when Paul told him he was returning to Europe—with a new bride.


MORE RESOURCES

Imagine: Paul Polman Bio

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, “Delivering Healthy Profits, People, and Planet,” Fireside Chat with Paul Polman

New YorkTimes: “He Ran an Empire of Soap and Mayonnaise. Now He Wants to Reinvent Capitalism”


GUESTS

Paul Polman

Episode 3: Paul Polman: The ‘Accidental CEO’

October 12, 2021 | Season 1 | 45:50

You might know Paul Polman as the former CEO of Unilever with a reputation as one of the most purpose-driven business leaders of the past 30 years. In this episode you will hear a different side of Paul—one that reveals how a Dutch boy who once thought he would enter the priesthood would later, and by accident, take on the mantle of responsible business.

Read More

Paul Polman’s life could have been completely different. His routes to the priesthood and medicine were blocked by circumstances outside his control. The stop in Cincinnati hardly conjured visions of a blockbuster business career. But this “accidental CEO” made the most of every opportunity, leaving behind proof of concept that sustainability and business success are not diametrically opposed ideas.


When he became CEO of Unilever in 2008, he fully committed to the idea of purposeful business. Paul was particularly irked by short-termism and the idea that capitalism created great wealth for some, but not for others. “You cannot have sustainable companies if you don’t have sustainable people,” he notes.


In this episode of 10x Bolder, you’ll also hear about his meandering path to leadership; how growing up with five siblings led to kitchen habits he maintains to this day; and his father’s less-than-welcoming reaction when Paul told him he was returning to Europe—with a new bride.


MORE RESOURCES

Imagine: Paul Polman Bio

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, “Delivering Healthy Profits, People, and Planet,” Fireside Chat with Paul Polman

New YorkTimes: “He Ran an Empire of Soap and Mayonnaise. Now He Wants to Reinvent Capitalism”


GUESTS

Paul Polman

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