#276: Chris Barron – GM Personal Care UK&I, Unilever
Chris Barron, General Manager Personal Care UK&I / VP Deodorants Europe at Unilever
With nearly 25 years’ experience in the industry, Chris is the General Manager for Unilever’s Personal Care business in the UK&I, and VP for Deodorants Europe. He was also recently appointed as Deputy chair for the industry body the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfumeries Association.
Chris started his career with L’Oréal on their management trainee scheme, before working both in their marketing team in London, and the International Development team based in the company’s global headquarters in Paris. He first joined Unilever in 2006 and has since then worked in London, Chicago, and New Jersey on many of Unilever’s biggest brands. Since 2017 he has been on the UK&I leadership team and is currently General Manager of the Personal Care business unit. He is also charged with running the program for the Deodorants business across Europe, Australia & NZ, leading the cross functional team for this €1bn business.
Chris has significant experience in working on purposeful brands. He has worked hard to pioneer a number of initiatives on Hygiene Poverty, to address the fact that almost half of low-income households have had to go without hygiene products because they can no longer afford them. This has seen more than one million products donated to charity partner In Kind Direct over the last year, and he is now working on scaling the initiative across the industry. Most recently, on Unilever’s Dove brand, he has been involved in launching Cost of beauty: A Dove film which invites people to join us on our mission to make social media a more positive place for young people.
Chris is married to Lizzie and has two daughters, Alice and Lottie. He is a big rugby and cricket fan, but the Chicago Cubs will always have a place in his heart.
Chris’s top leadership tips are firstly, to ‘make it personal’ with people by connecting with his team and broader stakeholders in a personable, authentic way. Secondly, his work during the pandemic as one of the leading manufacturers of soap and hygiene products in the UK&I informs his tip to wash your hands – more often than you think you need to and for longer. This is a habit from the pandemic we must keep, which would help to reduce the burden on the NHS by keeping us healthier and avoiding respiratory diseases.