Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Gina Boswell, Unilever

Exec VP-North American Personal Care

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Gina Boswell's strategy is Simple and Clear , if you'll pardon the pun.

Gina Boswell
Gina Boswell
The exec VP-North American personal care at Unilever is doing something few packaged-goods executives have done in decades -- launch two new brands in the U.S. within a few months of each other. Those include Simple, billed as the No. 1 U.K. skin-care range, which came to the U.S. in February, and Clear , a hair-care brand sold in 40 countries and coming to the U.S. for the first time in May.

If that weren't enough reason for Ms. Boswell to draw attention, consider that she is leading those efforts less than a year after taking her new job, having come to Unilever via its acquisition of Alberto-Culver in May 2011. As such, she's a poster child for Unilever's efforts to move fast and retain talent from acquired companies.

"Alberto-Culver was very nimble," Ms. Boswell said, adding that her goal has been "bringing that nimbleness to Unilever, where the new currency is speed."

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself as you were starting out?
One is , don't sweat the small stuff. Second, trust your instincts, and again that 's something that takes time to develop. And learn to speak Mandarin.

What's a fact about yourself that will surprise people?
I studied belly dancing … in my late teens. My cousin roped me into it.

If I weren't doing this job, I'd be …
Doing some sort of teaching, like a college professor, or an entrepreneur. Both require a love of learning.

What's your favorite type of music? Hip-hop, but also classical.

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