Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Nitin Paranjpe


THERE is a gap sometimes between those very intimately impacted by Covid and those who were lucky enough not just to escape it personally, but also not to know anyone close who suffered.

Nitin Paranjpe, chief operating officer of global multi-brand powerhouse Unilever, has an unusual distinction regarding the Covid crisis. He knows Mattia Maestri – a Unilever manager, who was identified as Italy’s first official Covid patient No 1. Maestri, who was 38 last year, made a full recovery but only after being treated in intensive care for three weeks and then spending months in rehabilitation before being let home.

“He was in a coma for a long time,” describes Paranjpe on a Zoom call from his London home. “It was very, very serious but thankfully, by God’s grace, and the effort and care of everyone, he came through it and is well. “It’s a very remarkable story.

“You can take inspiration from this – it’s an extreme example, but right across the world there are stories of resilience and people coming together and figuring out new ways of doing things in a world none of us had ever imagined. It’s inspiring and breath-taking.”

Much of his work over the year has been spent on responding to the crisis, while continuing production under safe Covid conditions.

He himself is no longer jetting off every few days to see and talk to Unilever managers dotted around the world. “I haven’t slept in the same bed in more than a week for the last seven years,” he tells the GG2 Power List. “It’s remarkably refreshing and pleasant. The time I got to spend with my family was an absolute bonus.”

Unilever is one of the world’s biggest corporations – and serves an estimated two and a half billion people around the

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