Nihal Kaviratne’s global career with Unilever spanned 40 years, starting in India in 1966. After a start in marketing and sales management, in 1979, the Indian government mandated higher exports for Unilever to maintain a controlling interest in its Indian subsidiary. Nihal did this successfully in 1979 as GM, Exports. In 1984, Nihal joined Unilever Indonesia as MD, Detergents, and turned around the ailing business. In 1990, he worked for Unilever, London. As Regional Leader Detergents for Latin America and South Asia, he powered Unilever's re-entry into Peru, Ecuador and Cuba.
Nihal was MD, Unilever Argentina in 1995 and returned to Indonesia as Chairman & CEO in 1998, during a period of crisis and turned it around. In 2004, he joined Unilever, Singapore and in 2005, he was Chairman, Unilever, Home & Oral Care in Asia.
Nihal pursues a keen interest in good corporate governance and CSR, through leadership of CEO forums and programmes for community development, health and education, fostering first generation SMEs, clean water projects, and sustainable agriculture. He pioneered a groundbreaking project with Oxfam, reported in the FT and the subject of an INSEAD case study. He was on the Founding Board of President University in Indonesia. In 2002, he was one of Business Week’s "25 leaders at the forefront of change" for the Stars of Asia Award.
He was cited in the Queen’s 2004 New Year Honours List in the UK and awarded the CBE for services to UK business interests and to sustainable development in Indonesia. Forbes India listed him as one of the “5 top names to have on your Board” in 2010. He serves on the Boards of StarHub Ltd. and is Chairman of its Strategy Committee, GlaxoSmithKline in India, TVS Motor (Singapore) Pte Limited, SATS Ltd., DBS Group Holdings Ltd., DBS Bank Ltd., DBS Foundation Ltd. and Olam International Ltd. He is Chairman, Caraway Pte. Ltd. and Akzo Nobel India Ltd. He is President Commissioner of PT TVS Motor Company Indonesia. He was founding member of the International Advisory Panel of GAIN on the Access to Nutrition Index. He is on the Advisory Board of Bain & Company for SEA/Indonesia.
He serves on the Board of The Bombay Mothers & Children Welfare Society, was a Founding Member APABIS’ Board, is Patron, Indian Cancer Society, and is the Founder of St. Jude India ChildCare Centres. In 2014, the UK Government (DFID) appointed him as a Member of their Private Sector Portfolio Advisory Committee in India.
He attended several management programmes in India, Australia, the UK and the USA, including the AEP at Kellogg, North Western University and the AMP at Harvard.
Nihal has an Honours degree in Economics from Bombay University.