Paul Polman Headshot black and white

Paul Polman

Business Leader, Climate & Equality Campaigner, Co-Author of ‘Net Positive’

why book paul?

  • Paul co-authored the critically acclaimed book “Net Positive” in 2021, outlining strategies for companies to succeed by addressing the world’s challenges. He is ranked #3 in Thinkers50
  • Under Paul’s leadership, Unilever consistently ranked 1st globally for sustainability. His commitment to sustainable practices reshaped Unilever’s model, setting an industry standard
  • Paul actively advocates for global action on climate change and inequality. He leads the UN Global Compact and serves as an Ambassador for Race to Zero and Race to Resilience
Paul Polman Headshot black and white


Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to tackle climate change and inequality. He believes, above all, that humanity will only overcome our greatest shared challenges through far-reaching systems change and bold new partnerships to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which he helped develop.

As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), Paul demonstrated that business can profit through purpose, marrying a long-term, multi-stakeholder model with excellent financial performance. During Paul’s tenure, shareholders saw their returns increase by 290% while the company consistently ranked 1st in the world for sustainability and as one of best places to work. 

Today Paul works across a range of organisations and initiatives to help speed the global action needed to regenerate our planet, renew our economies and unite our societies. He helps businesses move further and faster on these ambitions, including through his work with Systemiq and through mobilising private equity. He helps drive bold new coalitions within industries such as fashion and food, as well as between the private sector, government and civil society, including through his work leading the UN Global Compact and as an Ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience.

Paul Polman Headshot black and white

Paul is also passionate about developing our next generation of leaders, which he does as chair of the Oxford University Saïd Business School, and through his work with INSEAD, IESE and the Boards of PRME and One Young World. 

 In 2021, Paul published his critically-acclaimed book with sustainability expert Andrew Winston, “Net Positive”, which sets out how to build companies which succeed by fixing the world’s problems, rather than creating them. He has been recognised as #3 in Thinkers50. He actively campaigns on a range of human rights issues, including promoting disability inclusion through the Valuable 500 and the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which he set up with his wife Kim.


Net Positive: the case for a new way of doing business and what it entails

Why we need a new way of doing business

The talk will cover the ticking time bomb of climate change, biodiversity collapse and rising inequality and how our current way of doing business is exacerbating these issues as opposed to solving them. Despite the fact that we are moving forward in many ways when it comes to the decarbonisation agenda there is still a long way to go and a dangerous backlash (think anti-ESG, anti-woke and greenhushing) all trying to discredit what we must do.

Enter Net Positive, a new way of doing business for the people and companies who aim to profit from solving the world’s problems and not creating them. 

You will learn how a Net Positive way of doing business and the principles upheld:

  • Take ownership of all impacts, intended or not
  • Operate for long-term benefit of business and society
  • Create positive returns for all stakeholders
  • Reward shareholders as a result, not a goal
  • Partner to forge broader systemic change

Net Positive calls for a new way of thinking that requires courageous leadership. 

Net Positive; the leadership required

In order to embrace Net Positive, a new mindset is required. Not only at a business level but at an individual level. It starts with ourselves and we have to act with humanity, and act in the service of future generations.

This requires courageous leadership.

You will learn the traits required to foster and develop the leadership needed to live and work in a Net Positive way.

Paul Polman



Book cover of Net Positive by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston