Harriet Green (updated)
Harriet Green, president and CEO, Premier Farnell plc (London, UK), non-executive director, Emerson Electric Co. (St. Louis, Missouri)
A conversation with EE Times
| Harriet Green|
President and CEO, Premier Farnell plc
: What is the greatest accomplishment, pride in your career?
Harriet Green: That's a hard one as I tend to be my own toughest critic. Life for me is a journey with milestones so not sure any one achievement stands out above others and I still regard it as a 'work in progress'!
I guess in my own career to date it has been running businesses effectively in 4 continents and learning to love different cultures, and drive high performance through a very different approach to life and work. I've certainly learned that despite cultural differences we all respond well to encouragement, being treated with respect and the chance to make a difference in whatever we do.
I am passionate about people development and take real pride in seeing people I have supported or encouraged achieve things that they never thought they were capable of. I am also humbled when people I have worked with previously choose to come and work with me again.
In this rapidly changing world where technology plays an increasingly important role seeing the transformation that we are leading at Premier Farnell is another source of excitement for me. Internally, we've created a meaningful program called eLife for all of Premier Farnell's 4100 employees globally to empower and inspire them everything from cyber cafes to something we sometimes call 'Our tube'... watching the love of technology grow in all parts of the business is inspiring. I use technology to communicate internally video blogs, written blogs, instant messenger, micro-blogging (greets not tweets!)... and I'm learning about new tools everyday.
On a personal level, I'd have to say encouraging my teenage step-daughter and godson to believe in themselves and seeing them achieving academically what I knew they were capable of but they had doubted. It brought renewed confidence and they're now both at university tackling technology and science degrees!
EE Times: You are what we call a "Woman of Vision". Can you describe the "vision" that has motivated your professional decisions and choices? Are you still implementing it or have you changed direction?
Green: I think those who work for me might call me a woman of action more! I try not to be constrained by the way things have always been done and have a natural impatience to 'get on with it'. My mother would tell you I was an impatient and independent teenager and I was certainly very influenced by losing my father (a huge influence on my life) as a teenager it left me with a sense of never wanting to delay or put things off until tomorrow, in case tomorrow never comes... so seizing opportunity has perhaps been my greatest guiding principle. I've certainly seized opportunities that were offered even when the advantage wasn't immediately obvious and without doubt these have been some of the times in my career when I have perhaps grown the most
I love the Gandhi quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world". I use this every day, in every business and in every part of my life.
In terms of business direction I think listening to the voice of our customers and responding and being prepared to innovate and take the tough decisions is important too. Follow your instinct and be your own person. I have a very clear vision for Premier Farnell but vision is nothing without execution flawlessly executing the detail day in and day out delivering the service, tools and technology our customers want. Without the basics the vision is meaningless as it will never become a reality.
EE Times: Would you say that the visibility of women in technological fields has been improving, albeit slowly?
Green: Yes, I do. I am working with the ELC and last year I became involved with the IET Young Women Engineer Awards, as well as Premier Farnell's sponsorship of 12 university scholarships globally in electronics to encourage young people, not just women, into science and technology careers. This is where the challenge starts. I don't believe that women are blocked from these positions by virtue of their sex but more because of their education and early choices. It's a responsibility of educators and parents to ensure that choices are offered and encouraged at an early age. That these subjects are taught in a way to appeal to both sexes it's no longer all about engines!
There are some very high profile women in technology fields now and these will be superb role models for the next generation it's incumbent on all of us to spread the message. The media can, and is, helping and in this technology literate age women are no longer technology-phobic... That's great progress in itself.
EE Times: What should be done to encourage more women to become masters of technology and science and take on greater roles in tech in general?
Green: I think that early choices shape later career direction. So many opportunities I also think that men no longer think of these fields as needing to be male dominated and that's generational. Educating boys and girls to think more widely and believe in equal opportunity is important. Years ago the term engineer conjured up technical drawing offices and heavy equipment, dirty oily environments now with computer-aided design and micro-technology it's as accessible as any other career.
In many ways, technology will help as flexible working opportunities, mobile connectivity create more opportunity for less traditional ways of working these certainly help to ensure that women trying to combine family life with a meaningful career are no longer constrained to traditional office environments and hours but able to adapt their work to meet their life choices allowing women to stay on the career path to the more senior roles.
These are exciting times for this industry and the changing world in which we all live.
Harriet Green has been CEO of Premier Farnell since 2006 and was appointed non-executive director of Emerson in 2008.
Green previously held senior international positions with Arrow Electronics Inc. She served as its President of Asia Pacific, based in Hong Kong, and before that she had responsibility for global strategy, worldwide marketing, supplier management and operating businesses in the USA, Europe and Africa.
Before joining Arrow in 1994, Green was managing director of the Macro Group, part of Diploma plc.
She graduated with a degree in medieval history from London University, and in 2007 was recognized by the Stevie "Women in Business" Awards as the Best Executive in Europe, Africa, and Middle East (EMEA).