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Published on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Harriett Green speaks out about her sudden departure from Thomas Cook

Harriett Green was given the chance to defend herself against accusations of excessive personal spending and a clash of personalities during her time as Thomas Cook CEO when she appeared before a parliamentary committee today.

MPs investigating Cook's collapse were keen to hear the reasons why she was unable to continue with her transformation strategy of the company, which was focused on cutting costs, stripping assets and a digitalisation of the business.

Green said she was asked to leave the group after just 28 months by the Thomas Cook Board who told her they wanted a 'traditional travel person' to take the company forward.

She said the decision was made despite being told she'd 'done a great job' and had made tangible improvements to the business.

She had also earned a 93% approval rate from Thomas Cook staff.

"We had started those efficiencies but I wasn't able to complete that work. It was a six-year plan," she told MPs.

"This entire industry was transitioning to a digital environment where it can be more asset light and where a huge part of the clientele book their vacations online and do not visit a travel agent," she said.

"Having at least a credible digital capability while reduce its mortar and bricks asset base was essential for its survival."

MPs questioned why the Board had decided to cut short her role as CEO, pointing to reports at the time about clashes of personality and of accusations of too much personal spending.

"Certainly the Board and I had disagreements about the level of assets and the rate and pace of the digitalisation. We certainly had differences of opinion," she said.

Referring to the reports about her spending, Green said when she came to the business it was determined that hers would be very much a 24-hour role.

"From Monday to Thursday I would be living away from home, travelling across Europe. I was very focused on the survival and development of the business," she said.

"In the second year I had reduced those expenses by a third and given back a car allowance. The package I was given was entirely risk based, where I was rewarded purely on results.

"It is on record that I earned less that previous male CEOs and CEOs who came after me," she added.

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