Project Description


Geoff McDonald

Previously the Global Vice President Human Resources, Talent, Marketing, Communications, Sustainability & Water, Geoff recently left Unilever after 25 years in a truly global career, especially emerging markets. After starting work as a teacher, his career has spanned leadership, capability and talent development, organisation change, with particular reference to marketing, acquisitions and business transformation. Under the pupillage of Paul Polman, Geoff has devoted energy and effort to leading ground-breaking work in HR, transforming Unilever’s business model with embedding PURPOSE at its core, driving growth and profitability in a complex business.

Geoff is a Senior Advisor to the Global PR firm Buson-Marsteller and its Purpose Practice. He also consults to organisations in the area of mental health. He is a sought-after speaker, speaking on topics such as “the Bipolar world of business – profit and purpose”; “Mental Wellbeing – a competitive advantage”), with the aim of inspiring and provoking organisations to put purpose and wellbeing at the centre of everything they do. Geoff’s vision is to “see purposeful companies with purposeful individuals commonplace one day” for the overall benefit of society. He has spoken at events around the world, including Australasia; Europe; North America; and South Africa Geoff is a very active campaigner for breaking the stigma associated with Mental Health in the Corporate world and has participated in a number of BBC programmes, as well as writing articles for the Huffington Post, FT and HR related journals. He is also a trustee of the charity Family Links and of the Global Campaign It’s a Penalty – combatting the exploitation of young children around the world.

He previously convened a meeting with David Cameron and CEOs from Footsie 100 Companies to address their role and agree on actions to break stigma in the corporate world. He also provided some support with the Royal Foundation (Prince William, Harry and Kate) in their mental health campaign.

Geoff is married with two girls and loves the outdoors, he is a passionate cyclist and swimmer and has completed a number of ultra cycling events both on and off-road.

Unilever is a global corporation with a turnover of £50 billion, 170,000 employees in 90 countries around the world.

Summary CV

  • Bsc Honours Degree, HDE, Universities of Natal and Cape Town
Career History
  • 1987-1989: Math and Biology GCSE and A level teacher at Glenwood High School, Durban
  • 1989-1992: Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager Unilever South Africa
  • 1992-1995: HR Operations and Training Manager, Unifoods
  • 1995-1998: HR Factory Manager – Lever Brothers, Maydon Wharf
  • 1998-2005: Human Resources Development Manager Africa, Middle East and Turkey
  • 2003-2005: Vice President Human Resources – Unilever Australasia
  • 2005-2007: Global Vice President Leadership and Talent
  • 2008-2011: Global Vice President Human Resources Unilever – Home and Personal Care Categories
  • 2001-2016: Global Vice President Human Resources Unilever – Marketing, Communications, Sustainability and Water
  • 2014-present: involved in a variety of projects including:
    • Senior Advisor to Global PFR Firm Buson Marsteller on Purposeful Business and Organisation Change
    • Faculty member of the Forward Institute, initiated post the financial crisis and in partnership with Bath University aimed at teaching a more responsible form of leadership to leaders in the financial and professional services sectors
    • Global Advocate, Campaigner and International speaker on subjects such as Mental Health; Leadership for a new normal; Purposeful business at Corporate leadership events
    • Trustee of Family Links
    • Co-Founder of Minds At Work
    • Snr Advisor to Global Mental Health Campaign
    • Director Geoff McDonald Consulting to Mental Health at Work
  • 2017: joined byrne·dean