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Geoff McDonald

Geoff McDonald

Former Global VP of HR, Unilever

Geoff’s background in teaching, HR, marketing, communications and sustainability is considerable.

During his 25 years with Unilever (a global corporation with a turnover of £50 billion, 170,000 employees in 90 countries around the world), his experience has been truly global working across Africa Middle-East and Turkey, Australasia and Asia, Europe and the Americas.  His HR experience has spanned leadership and talent development, organisation change, capability development, with particular reference to marketing, and business transformation with purpose at its core. Early in his career he was responsible for graduate recruitment and development, talent, acquisitions and development across Unilever’s emerging markets. Under his leadership he developed Unilever’s global talent and leadership centre of expertise. More recently he has devoted his time, energy and effort to leading ground breaking work where the HR function has played a central role in transforming Unilever’s business model with purpose at its core.

Today Geoff is a very much sought after speaker, inspiring and provoking organisations to put purpose and wellbeing at the centre of everything they do. His experience in Unilever, under the pupilage of Paul Polman, allows him to provide very practical insights and speak on how to go about truly embedding PURPOSE and address the taboo associated with wellbeing (particularly mental health) within a large global multi-national organisation. With this experience come some real learning’s on what may or may not work.  He has spoken at Cambridge, Oxford, Bologna, Warwick Universities as well as Corporate events across Australia, Europe, Japan, North America, Turkey and Eastern Europe.  Geoff is devoting a significant amount of time consulting to organisations, helping them define and embed purpose as a driver of growth and profitability and was recently appointed Strategic Advisor to the Global PR and Communications firm Burson Marsteller, in the area of Corporate Purpose and Organisation Change.  Additionally, Geoff’s an Executive Director of Open Minds Health, an organisation providing businesses with practical strategies to address workplace mental wellbeing culture for achievable, measurable and sustainable improvement of employee wellbeing.

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 and campaigns regards this subject, as well as writing of articles for Huffington Post, FT and HR related journals. He’s recently had the opportunity to engage with Pope Francis on how we create a more sustainable and inclusive economy through his work with the Global Foundation, and has previously convened a meeting with David Cameron and CEOs from Footsie 100 Companies to address their role and agree actions to break stigma in the corporate world. He too is supporting the Royal Foundation (Prince William, Harry and Kate) in their mental health campaign and activation within the the Corporate sector and was recently appointed Trustee of Family Links, a Charity promoting and educating parents and teachers to develop emotionally healthy children and young adults. 

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 and swimming events.