We are honoured to feature Harriet Green OBE in this week’s Inspirational Women in Business series, the Chairman and CEO of IBM Asia Pacific and ex CEO of Thomas Cook Group. Harriet is also an Advisory Board Member for King’s College London, a Non-Executive Director of BAE Systems and a Board Member for Singapore Economic Development Board. She received her OBE in 2010 for her services to electronics, as well as receiving the Women in Technology Institute Award in 2016.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Have the confidence to ask for forgiveness, not only permission. This is especially important in the business world as you have to maintain great momentum. There are always going to be situations where you don’t have all the answers but it’s necessary to push forward. In my experience, by applying sound judgement, trusting your gut and being true to your values, 9 out of 10 times you will make the right decision.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
You have time! I believe that you should treat every 24 hours as your last on the planet and that time is our most precious asset; one we should cherish and treat with respect. So, don’t take time given for granted – plan, make the most of every second and ensure you get something out of your time. Seize the day!
3. What would you tell your younger self?
What you think, what you do, and what you manage to change and impact are what matter the most. Worry less about what others think about you and your ideas and more about what you think. Overfocusing on the views of others can paralyse us.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
Businesses are reinventing themselves and technologies like AI, Cloud and Blockchain are creating new business models as well as creating a better world for all of us. IBM is at the forefront of this new era – an era which will require new skills and a commitment to continuous learning, something I have always been passionate about.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I have had several amazing people inspire me over the course of my life and career. Last year on LinkedIn, I began writing about my ‘heroes’ or ‘idols’ and everything I learned from their lives and careers. In the ‘Idol Series’ I have written about 4 idols so far: Anita Roddick – the fearless founder of Body Shop who inspired me to be courageous and learn from others, Gorbachev Mikhail – the revolutionary Soviet Union leader who inspired me to aim high and learn from my mistakes, David Hume – an 18th century, progressive philosopher who taught me the importance of reason and passion in leading a happy life and Chrissie Hynde – an evergreen Rockstar musician from whom I learnt to always be my true, authentic self.