Lewis will head up the fmcg giant's $20bn-sales operations in North and South American from May and will also join the group executive board. He will be based in London.
The management shakeup will also see current Americas chief Michael Polk promoted to global president of foods, home and personal care, replacing Vindi Banga, who is leaving the business. Amanda Sourry, EVP of spreads and dressings will replace Lewis in his UK job.
Following his restructure of Unilever UK in 2007, when the business was streamlined with the loss of over 300 jobs, Lewis earned the nickname 'Drastic Dave'. He subsequently oversaw the rationalisation of 47% of the company's skus.
But as the 2009 performance of leading brands such as Ben & Jerry's, PG Tips, Flora and Surf testifies, his actions have paid dividends.