Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, is the winner of the 2014 European Communication Award. Taking the helm of a consumer goods giant with a famously complicated organisational structure would be enough of a challenge for anyone. But using that opportunity to push an ambitious agenda for doubling the company's size while at the same time reducing overall environmental footprint - a plan which has been described as "radical and ambitious" - clearly calls for an especially determined type of leader. It also calls for a leader who can clearly communicate the case for this "radical and ambitious" programme. Paul Polman is such a leader.
Having taken on the position of CEO at Uilever in 2009, Paul announced his global strategy for growth and sustainability in 2010, and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan continues to win awards and press coverage to this day. Further signs of Paul’s passion for spreading the word about alternative models of business leadership can be found in his membership of the "B-Team", a group of business leaders who work on finding sustainable solutions to the current ways of doing business, as well as his cooperation with major bodies outside the commercial sector - such as his participation on a UN High Level Panel on the development agenda or his invitation by the UK’s Prime Minister to be a British Business Ambassador - more proof of an ambitious leadership style.
But it is not only for his championship of growth strategies and green credentials that we celebrate Paul Polman today; under his leadership, Unilever has been building bridges between Europe and Asia, particularly India and Singapore, where Unilever’s new leadership development center earned an award from the prime minister. As a vocal, highly visible and widely esteemed CEO, Paul Polman has consistently displayed the communication skills necessary for a successful business leader, and that is why he is this year’s deserving recipient of the European Communications Award.