Harriet Green, CEO, Thomas Cook
When Harriet Green joined Thomas Cook as its Group CEO in 2012, chairman Frank Meysman described her appointment as ‘marking the start of a new era’ for the company. Harriet had already been credited with leading the turnaround of FTSE 250 electronics distribution group Premier Farnell prior to joining Thomas Cook, when she was awarded an OBE for services to industry. Embracing the enabling power of ecommerce, she transformed it from a catalogue distributor to a multi-channel organisation with over 60% of sales transacted online compared to just 12% when she took over in 2006.
“Harriet Green took over Thomas Cook at a time when the iconic tour operator was still in intensive care following a severe financial crisis,” observes Tim Shacklock, Principle of Investment Banking firm Gleacher Shacklock. “Just over one year later the Company has been completely transformed in terms of people, strategy and finances, and this has been reflected in a very strong share price rise. The prosperous future of the Company has been secured for the benefit of 29,000 employees and 23.7 million customers.”
The market cap of Thomas Cook was just £150m when Harriet joined as CEO and it is now in excess of £2billion. Share price has gone from 13p to just over £1.70 in the course of the year, and in the course of the last 6 months it has returned to the FTSE 250 (now 134).
“Harriet Green is the key UK business leader of this generation because she has led the most important business turnaround since the financial crisis,” adds Sebastian Grigg, Managing Director of Credit Suisse. “She had to seek the support of regulators and financial backers. She was able to finance the transformation without loss to savers and lenders and with the support of major institutional investors. She led the change with constant charisma. Her transformation programme will be a model for years to come and an example of how our economy can reform and embrace new technology. Thomas Cook has been state owned and foreign owned but today it is right back in the London Stock Market. Harriet Green has secured the future of this company for the UK. It is a remarkable achievement.”
A non-Executive Director of BAE Systems plc and Emerson Electric Co, Harriet is also a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, and a founder member and trustee of the PeaceWorks Foundation. A global executive with extensive, multi-channel business leadership experience of the worldwide technology and industrial markets, Harriet attributes her ability to strategically transform large organisations to her focus on employee engagement.
Michael Healy, Group CFO of Thomas Cook commented: “Harriet is a truly distinct leader. She is one of the very best CEOs I have worked with.
She is an incredibly proactive leader, always one step ahead of the organization, always thinking one move further ahead than peers and competitors.
Harriet has a unique combination of hard and soft (Lion and Panda) which enables her to get followership while aligning the corporate culture.
And she has a fantastic way of combining short term execution focus and long term strategy and direction.
The type of transformation seen at Thomas Cook has to my knowledge never been accomplished before. Both the magnitude and quality of the change effort is unique not only in Travel but in other industries.”
The Thomas Cook Group is the oldest and best known name in leisure travel with a history of innovation that started in 1841. We are very proud to serve the 23 million customers who chose to travel with us each year and, are focused on transforming our business so that we can serve even more customers in ways that deliver better their holiday dreams.
As a trusted travel advisor, our core purpose is to inspire our customers to see the world and to explore it. We aspire to delight our customers with the delivery of trusted, personalised holiday experiences through a high-tech, high-touch approach. Our goal is to consistently meet and exceed the expectations of our customers and to be accessible for them however, whenever and, wherever they want to connect with us. Through our new strategy we are adding new products, destinations and exciting online tools and applications to improve every part of the customer experience.
Thomas Cook Group plc is one of the world’s leading leisure travel groups with sales of £9.5 billion and 23 million customers in the year ended 30 September 2012. Thomas Cook is supported by nearly 30,000 full time equivalent employees and operates from 21 countries; it is number one or two in all its core markets. Thomas Cook Group plc’s shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange (TCG).
Since Harriet Green joined as Group CEO in July 2012 the business has commence a Transformation which includes the launch of a new strategy in March 2013 and a capital refinancing in June 2013 with more exciting milestones planned.