Thomas Cook: Harriet Green takes on a historic culture

I reblogged this post on the news today [November 27th 2014] that Harriet Green is to leave the company after a period of considerable success in her restructuring policy

According to The Guardian

Harriet Green has been pushed out as chief executive of Thomas Cook in a shock departure that wiped £400m off the value of the tour operator.

Green had garnered investor plaudits, and an award for businesswoman of the year, for turning around a business that was recovering from the brink of bankruptcy when she joined two years ago. But her board was less enamoured.  As Green departed with shares worth more than £9m, Thomas Cook’s chairman said the group needed a leader with more knowledge of the leisure industry.

My original post indicated concerns over the difficulties she was likely to face in changing a powerful corporate culture. It makes an excellent business case .

Leaders We Deserve

Harriet GreenThomas Cook is an iconic name among British travel agencies. Its new CEO Harriet Green faces tough times for the travel sector as well as having to deal with a resilient corporate culture.

Some years ago I researched the company after reading a historical biography. I was struck by the corporate culture, which reminded me of the provincial ‘assurance companies’ at the time, loyal staff, solid and traditional in its values. Harriet Green faces interesting challenges.

A recent interview in The Independent sketches the leader and her possible dilemmas.

The shelves are wedged with books, as you would expect for a history graduate, and another nod to the past is mounted on the wall overlooking Ms Green’s shoulder: a sepia-tinted portrait of Thomas Cook himself.
She hopes to take a leaf out of the founder’s book. In 1841, the Baptist preacher arranged to take a group of temperance campaigners to…

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