Tell us about your career: how did you get one of the top posts in Unilever?

My first job was with Guinness where I enjoyed both sales and marketing. I joined Unilever, via Brooke Bond, five years later. I then had a spell in Germany, before being made marketing manager of Brooke Bond UK. In 1995 I was made marketing director of Van den Bergh Foods. I left the UK in 1997 to take over as head of Unilever Foods in France. Then in 2000 I went to run our business in the Middle East.

Wasn’t the Middle East a bit of a grim posting?

It was fantastic for me personally to be in in a part of the world that was in turmoil. It was exciting to get some better understanding of what was behind all of that. But it was challenging from a leadership point of view - particularly being responsible for large numbers of expats.