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Hina Nagarajan: Diageo’s Growth Champion

Hina Nagarajan: Diageo’s Growth Champion

As the head of the largest alco-bev company in India, Hina Nagarajan aims to change the perceptions on women and alcohol in the country

Hina Nagarajan, 56, MD & CEO, Diageo India Hina Nagarajan, 56, MD & CEO, Diageo India

In 2007, when Hina Nagarajan joined at the helm of Mary Kay India, the Dallas-headquartered direct selling cosmetics firm had just entered the country. Taking the challenge head on, Nagarajan set up Mary Kay India "brick by brick". Since then, Mary Kay has exited India, and Nagarajan has moved up in her career. But what remains is the "sense of purpose and fulfilment" the role had implanted in her.

Years later, at Diageo India, Nagarajan is now in charge of its massive India operations involving 3,261 direct employees, thousands of business partners, growing its Rs 27,176-crore top line and firmly establishing its brands in the country's consumer goods market. She also needs to implement a transformation of the India business that was housed under a fragmented United Spirits (USL) umbrella. To steer clear of the USL rut, Diageo is now actively reshaping its portfolio that, Nagarajan believes, will help improve its margins to 15-19 per cent from the current 12.5 per cent level. Accelerating the growth for its luxury and premium portfolio, especially in scotch, will be backed by differentiated offerings in the sub-premium segment—growing its value proposition in the low and mid-segment brands such as McDowell's No. 1 and Royal Challenge.

It's not usual for an alco-bev company to be run by a woman. But when Diageo offered her the India role, following her successful transformation of its Africa business, she took up the challenge. "I felt that being the CEO of an alco-bev company in India would be a great opportunity to change the paradigm of this industry and perceptions of women and alcohol," she says.

An avid music lover, Nagarajan is equally passionate about Bollywood, old pop songs and instrumentals—the rhythmic symphonies blending the diverse sets of tunes, ignites her senses. Just like her new role, where she is now in charge of blending the perfect mix of profitability and growth, while promoting responsible and more inclusive drinking behaviour among consumers.

@arndutt