Ira Noviarti

President Director of Unilever Indonesia

PT Unilever Indonesia

2023

Asia's Most Inspiring Executives

Ira Noviarti

Asia's Most Inspiring Executives

2023

President Director of Unilever Indonesia

PT Unilever Indonesia

about Ira Noviarti

“Driven by Purpose”

Unilever is a company built on purpose, Ira says, and that is to make sustainable living commonplace.

Twenty-eight years ago, Ira Noviarti joined Unilever Indonesia because she had a keen interest in the FMCG sector. 

“I was lucky to be welcomed on board as a management trainee where I picked up my passion for marketing,” she recalls. 

Unilever Indonesia is one of Indonesia’s largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies. It employs 4,000-plus people, and has eight factories across the country producing more than 40 brands in more than 1,000 SKUs of Indonesia’s favourite products such as Pepsodent, Lux, Lifebouy, Wall’s, Royco soup-stock, Sunlight, Bango soy sauce, and so on − all of which carry the halal certification.

Back in 1995, Unilever Indonesia wasn’t as big as it is today and Ira had just begun her journey towards her present position as President Director. She remembers being able to challenge herself in a variety of roles to build her career and one of her most memorable achievements was when she was appointed to be General Manager of the Southeast Asia Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) business − an area and market she had no prior experience in.

But, “I went outside my comfort zone and stepped up to the role with a curious heart and open mind to learn everything,” she says. 

The business at the time had its challenges but she consistently asked questions, identified the gaps and together with her team, she led UFS Southeast Asia to outperform others in the region for three consecutive years − from 2014 to 2017.

Inspired to return to Indonesia to unleash the potential of the Indonesian business, Ira came back as the Director of Beauty & Personal Care in 2017 and later was appointed to her present position as President Director of Unilever Indonesia in November 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Toughest Challenge

It was to be one of the biggest challenges she ever had to face in her personal and professional life.

“The health and safety of our people and their families were at critical risk, many of us lost loved ones, and simultaneously, all businesses had to adapt to massive changes. We made significant efforts to drive a speedy transformation and a shifting mindset,” she recalls.   

Despite the challenges and changes, the business successfully recorded a 4.2% growth in 2022 with net sales of IDR 40.2 Trillion, and a net profit of IDR 5.4 Trillion.

“Challenges,” she says in hindsight, “continue to shape my future-fit leadership values and provide valuable life lessons to become a better member of society.” 

Principles for Success

Ira attributes Unilever Indonesia’s success to three principles she values, teaches and follows in the company. 

The first is to always do well by doing good.

Ira says at Unilever Indonesia, they want to earn the love and respect of millions of Indonesians through their products every day, which is why she highly resonates with the company’s purpose and that is to make sustainable living commonplace.  This tenet is supported by three core beliefs: Brands with purpose will grow, companies with purpose will last and people with purpose will thrive.

The second is in creating an environment, culture and system that are inclusive, diverse and collaborative. Diverse representation and opinions result in better decisions and stronger results, which is why, “Our current Board of Directors as the highest decision makers have equal male and female representation as well as people of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” she says. 

The third is continuous learning where she emphasizes the importance of learning it all rather than knowing it all, being interested rather than being interesting.  

“At Unilever Indonesia, we are committed to uphold the highest standards of integrity, guiding us to make the right and responsible decisions for the long-term success of the company and of our people.”

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