Helene von Reis

  • Member of the UNU-IAS Advisory Board

    President CEO & CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer) of IKEA Japan K.K.
    Former Vice President of IKEA US and Managing Director at IKEA Communications

    Helene is a senior business leader with big passion for people, communication and sustainability. She has over 25 years of communication and retail experience with IKEA. After completing her university studies within the fields of journalism, marketing and business administration, she worked at IKEA Communications as senior Project Leader.
    IKEA Communications develops and produces products such as the IKEA website, IKEA Catalogue, IKEA assembly instructions and global and local marketing campaigns.

    In 2003 she became the Information Manager at IKEA of Sweden, the company which is responsible for developing all IKEA products and supplying them. At IKEA of Sweden she established the first intranet and led and developed global external and internal communication platforms to strengthen worldwide awareness of IKEA and IKEA products.

    In 2007 she was appointed as Managing Director at IKEA Communications where she successfully positioned IKEA to tap emerging technologies and turned the organization into a competence hub of creative and project management talent.

    In 2011 she returned to the retail arena and led the IKEA Shenzhen store to top performance also being part of the extensive IKEA China expansion.

    In 2013 she moved to the US as IKEA US Vice President responsible for customer relations and several IKEA markets. During her years in the US she successfully developed and gained national attention for IKEA US diversity work focusing on increased parental leave benefits making IKEA US a front runner for equality.

    Helene is since 2015 the President and CEO of IKEA Japan K.K. and since 2019 also the CSO of IKEA Japan. As she is an active opinion leader for sustainability and equality in Japan, she led IKEA Japan to achieve 50/50 gender equality for manager levels and received first prize at “Forbes Japan Women Award” in 2017. She also succeeded in installing solar panels on all 9 IKEA stores and Distribution center operated on 100% renewable electricity. This year, IKEA Japan received BREEM certification for the Distribution center which made IKEA Japan the very first company to receive it in Japan.

    Helene also participates in various forums as the speaker both nationally and globally, such as Women’s Forum 2018 in Canada and Singapore and Japan’s very first Climate Reality Leadership Training which was founded by former president Al Gore in 2019. Board member of United Nations University Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability since March 2020.