My career has been a level of serendipity all along. I've never planned anything out more than a few years. All the places we lived - the 12, 13 countries - and the companies I worked for were a combination of circumstances.
As CEO of Unilever, my personal mission is to galvanize our company to be an effective force for good.
As a consumer goods company serving billions of consumers every day, Unilever understands the drivers and motivations that create the norms that lie behind people's behaviour.
Empowering women is one of the most important things we - and indeed, every business - can do.
Too many companies are running their business into the ground, I would argue, by being myopically short-term focused on the shareholder.
System-wide changes rely on a critical mass of interested parties, all willing to enter into deep partnerships and collaborations, founded on new levels of trust and a commitment to action, not debate.
Often people ask me what my job is, and I say, honestly, it is to make others successful, and the more you do that, the more you will see that you create prosperity.
I say to a lot of people you have to measure success in terms of progress, not in terms of end state.
My own fear, if I have one myself, is a fear of being obsolete. This is a world that changes very fast, and one of the main human desires is to belong to, to be part of, something. It's probably one of our greatest needs next to oxygen.
Addressing the weaknesses of capitalism will require us, above all, to do two things: first, to take a long-term perspective, and second, to re-set the priorities of business.
Our political leaders have great responsibilities, but as with many situations in life, people often rise or fall to meet your expectations. Our responsibility as citizens is to expect our leaders to lead and to give them enough support so that they may do so.
It only takes a handful of sizeable companies to reach a tipping point and to transform markets.
Why would you invest in a company which is out of synch with the needs of society, that does not take its social compliance in its supply chain seriously, that does not think about the costs of externalities or of its negative impacts on society?
For Unilever, investing in women is an imperative. The business and social cases for doing so are inextricably linked.
The ideal is a world in which every woman and girl can create the kind of life she wishes to lead, unconstrained by harmful norms and stereotypes.
When we empower women, society benefits, grows, and thrives.
If we all act together - business, governments, NGOs and citizens and, especially, the young - just imagine the good we could create.
Working together on solving something requires a high level of humility and a high level of self-awareness.
Leadership is not just about giving energy… it's unleashing other people's energy.
There are some basic human needs that are the same. Everybody wants to succeed.
P&G started in 1837, Nestle in 1857. These companies have been around for so long because they are in tune with society. They are very responsible companies, despite the challenges that they sometimes deal with, all the criticism they get.
In certain cases, empowering women starts with making their lives easier and removing unnecessary burdens.
When women are provided with training and entrepreneurial opportunities in distribution networks, they become role models in their communities, showing it is possible to challenge limiting norms and stereotypes, and to succeed.
At Unilever, we are committed to building an inclusive organisation where all individuals feel safe, valued, and supported - irrespective of gender, background, or any other difference.
I discovered a long time ago that if I focus on doing the right thing for the long term to improve the lives of consumers and customers all over the world, the business results will come.
It is our responsibility as businesses to deliver ambitious solutions and technologies to bring us low-carbon, inclusive and sustainable growth.
Leading businesses are making large strides in ensuring a sustainable future, but ultimately, they can only do so much.
If the short-term decisions you make damage the long term, you should resist those. But there are many short-term decisions that you need to make to be a successful manager.
At Unilever, we operate in 190 countries with two billion people using our products daily. We take climate seriously because we know that it impacts those two billion people - and that means it impacts us, too.
Businesses and governments need to work together and make a joint commitment if we want to address climate change effectively and quickly.
Runaway climate change would condemn millions to a life of poverty and cause us to fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. This is not an acceptable outcome.
It is not possible to have a strong, functioning business in a world of increasing inequality, poverty, and climate change.
There are billions of people in the world who deserve the better quality of life that products such as soap, shampoo, and clean drinking water can provide.
Unilever has been around for 100-plus years. We want to be around for several hundred more years.
Unilever brings together the resources and experience of a multinational company alongside our deep local roots, which enables us to grow a genuinely African consumer goods business.
My father worked in a tyre factory. My mother worked as a teacher.
As economies have evolved, the nature of work has always changed.
Let's work together to make our economies strong and our climate sustainable. It can be done.
I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands which, for years, had been a center of textile production.
Taking proactive action on climate change is essential to ensuring that Unilever remains a viable business in the future. We will also reap the benefits in innovation, new product development, and cost efficiencies.
We all have responsibility to stop violence and discrimination against women, whether it's in our businesses, in our homes, or on our streets.
Left unchecked, climate change risks not only making the poorest poorer, but pulling the emerging middle classes back into poverty, too.
I wanted to be a priest. I could have done that. I wanted to be a doctor. I could have done that. Circumstances didn't lead me to it, so my fallback option was business. I wasn't really motivated to this.
The moral case for gender equality is obvious. It should not need any explanation.
Safe working conditions, fair wages, protection from forced labor, and freedom from harassment and discrimination - these must become standard global operating conditions.
Every region in the world faces challenges - and Africa is hugely diverse, so its own challenges are varied.
I work a lot with blind people in my spare time outside of Unilever, and I count my blessings every day.
I think the most important thing is to achieve what you set out to achieve. Just being a CEO in itself is not success. I would not relate success to a title or a position.