Unilever's Aline Santos named leader of the year by Marketing Society

Santos was recognised for her inspirational efforts during the pandemic.

Marketing Society: Aline Santos is chief brand officer and chief equity diversity and inclusion officer
Marketing Society: Aline Santos is chief brand officer and chief equity diversity and inclusion officer

Aline Santos, Unilever's chief brand officer and chief equity diversity and inclusion officer, has been named the The Marketing Society's Marketing Leader of the Year.

Santos was recognised for leading Unilever's global marketing capabilities effortlessly and inspirationally throughout the pandemic, as well as challenging gender stereotypes and ethnic bias throughout her career.

Santos was described as leading from the heart, embodying what marketing is about, creating change, challenging the status quo, demanding that perceptions are shifted, and championing both the craft of marketing and the diversity within it.

The award recognises inspirational individuals that have consistently demonstrated how marketers can have a positive profound effect on society and lead the way for the industry.

Kathleen Saxton, executive vice-president and managing director of MediaLink, who was a judge for the awards, commented: "Navigating the sea of change for a huge brand like Unilever over the last 12 months is an incredible feat alone but Aline has also led the charge to challenge gender stereotypes and ethnic bias, inspiring many marketers around the world when this was brought to the forefront following the events of 2020.

"I've been a huge admirer for many years, as she's somebody whose sheer energy, engaging personality and passion has driven real change. Aline is a force of nature, and a thoroughly deserving winner."

There were two highly commended nominees: Richie Mehta, chief executive, School of Marketing; and Conrad Bird, director campaigns and marketing, The Cabinet Office.

Also on the shortlist was Kemi Anthony, marketing and communications manager, Ikea; Kevin McNair, marketing director, KP Snacks; Natalie Truong, chief marketing officer, Mercer (Asia); and Emma Botton, marketing communications director, Tesco.

Past winners of the marketing leader award include Nationwide's Sara Bennison, Mars' Mitch Oliver, Direct Line's Mark Evans, Just Eat's Barnaby Dawe and McDonald's Alistair Macrow.

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