Chris Combe

CEO and President / Combe Incorporated

The power of niche

Chris Combe (NU ’70) and Combe Incorporated
are providing global care on a personal level

For decades, Combe Incorporated has grown brands that are an intimate part of daily life for millions. Ivan Combe (NU ’33) founded the company in 1949 and quickly rolled out successful lines of personal care products. Clearasil, Vagisil and Just for Men are only a few of the brands the company introduced.

Chris Combe, who took over as CEO and president after his father’s passing in 2000, described Ivan as “truly somebody who felt that he wanted to give back to his university.” As a Northwestern trustee, Ivan Combe helped establish the Combe Indoor Tennis Center.

A Northwestern trustee and alumnus himself, Chris Combe has followed suit. In Spring 2014, the Youn Impact Scholar Program, named after One Acre Fund founder Andrew Youn ’06 and endowed by a gift from the Combe family, welcomed its inaugural class. Since its inception, the One Acre Fund has brought more than one million people out of poverty.

“We need to create more Andrew Youns,” Chris Combe said, referring to Youn’s work in microfinancing farm materials and education in Kenya. Combe also serves on the board of global health and human rights initiatives like Malaria No More and Heart Care International, a surgery practice and support organization.

“Long term, there’s a huge opportunity in having a social impact globally, helping the least of us, people who just want to survive,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get to a point where they’re thriving.”

After a long career, Combe recently announced that his daughter, Keech Combe Shetty ’06, will take over as co-president and co-CEO with husband Akshay Shetty ’06. “It’s tremendous,” said Combe, who will remain as non-executive chairman while continuing his philanthropic work. “They’ve done an outstanding job, and they’re definitely ready.”

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