Cressida becomes chief Dick

February 23, 2017

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The apppointment of a Cressida Dick, a real-life celebrity detective as head of London’s police force, gave me a chance to compare her achievements with that of my fictional character Wendy Lockinge

Wendy Lockinge stars in the 2016 campus thriller Chronicles of Leadership. (see blurb details above). If you have not yet bought or obtained a copy by other means, do so immediately.

First, a spoiler alert about this post to the heavy-breathing brigade. There is nothing of an offensive or sexually explicit nature here. I couldn’t resist that headline, although I will now have to spend some time deleting messages from trolls who may have expected something rather different in this post.

In my story as well as that of Cressida Dick, a highly capable woman overcomes prejudice to reach the top of her profession. Female leaders remain in the minority in many walks of life. An exception is in the police, where opportunities are given for the brightest to reach the top.

Both Wendy and Cressida take the fast-track graduate recruitment pathway, starting out as the lowest rank uniform copper on the beat. Both take higher degrees in a branch of forensic science.  Both have contacts with individuals in our security services.

In my dreams, I see them in film versions  portrayed by one of our leading actresses whose name I will not reveal. There may be an agent out there already working to secure the part of Wendy for someone else.

Maybe in a future work of fiction, Wendy Lockinge will re-enter the police, and work with Cressida Dick to secure our Country and protext the world from the threats coming from desperate  Remainers attempting to kidnap a member of the royal family, blow up Parliament, and install Angela Merkel as Empress of the newly United States of Europe.

 

Cressida Dick is the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the first woman to take charge of London’s police force. Ms Dick, previously the national policing lead on counter-terrorism, said she was “thrilled and humbled”. But her appointment was criticised by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was wrongly shot dead during an operation she led.

The Brazilian electrician was killed two weeks after 7 July 2005 London Bombings when he was mistakenly identified as a terror suspect. A jury later found the Met had broken health and safety laws, but found there was “no personal culpability for Commander Cressida Dick”.

Ms Dick, 56, left the Met for the Foreign Office after 31 years of service in December 2014. She was chosen for the commissioner’s job ahead of National Police Chiefs’ Council chairwoman Sara Thornton, Essex Police chief constable Stephen Kavanagh and Scotland Yard’s Mark Rowley.

Her statement said: “This is a great responsibility and an amazing opportunity. “I’m looking forward immensely to protecting and serving the people of London and working again with the fabulous women and men of the Met.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Ms Dick was “an exceptional leader with a clear vision and an understanding of the diverse range of communities [The Met]serves”.

BBC website, 22 February, 2017: Cressida Dick appointed as first female Met Police chief

I am now writing to a few friends with a background in policing to whom I sent a copy of The Chronicles of Leadership, repeating that Wendy is a creature of my imagination, and that any connection with any real-life individual is purely coincidental.


Thomas Cook: Harriet Green takes on a historic culture

October 15, 2013

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 a rally 11 miles away, charging a shilling each to cover rail fare and food.
More innovation followed over the decades. Thomas Cook was the first company to develop travellers’ cheques, a low-cost airline and the round-the-world trip. Now Ms Green is leading the march for new products beyond the company’s sun, sea and sangria core. That means city breaks and winter sun and catering better for discrete categories of holidaymaker, such as Nordic divorcees.

She has closed shops but refashioned others, which look “a lot more Apple than travel”. Sunseekers can now load their vacation wishes on to an iPad and take them home to discuss with the family.
Ms Green has been vocal about women putting themselves forward for top jobs, and wrote to Frank Meysman, Thomas Cook’s chairman, to tell him she had the skills he needed even though her background was in electronics, not travel. “I felt I had enough experience, that I would be pacy, resilient and be able to generate belief,” she says. Thomas Cook shares fell when her appointment was announced – but have risen tenfold now.
“You ask any chairman, any chief executive: it is about getting women, from 13-year-olds to 25-year-olds who take business degrees, to think running a business is good and positive and fun.”
Ms Green climbed the corporate ladder starting as a trainee at Macro, which distributed semiconductors, and rising to be UK managing director. Her next company, Arrow Electronics, gave her a larger canvas. After setting up its European network, she travelled to Africa, Asia and America.

“My last meeting is usually at six or seven and then I do my reading and emails. I make a commitment to everyone I’ve ever worked with that every email they send me will be responded to in the day. I’m the only chief executive I know who does all her own emails – that is something very personal and important to me.”

Ms Green has shaken up her senior team at Thomas Cook, with a third of her lieutenants promoted from within and a third new appointments.

Leaders and leadership

Some aspects of culture in the company seem to have survived. I noted the mention of the founder’s portrait in the article cited above. It’s the one that was an ever-present ghost of Thomas Cook in the old corporate headquarters.

As for emails: I applaud Harriet Green’s energy. But with 30,000 staff with direct access, I wondered about the cultural discouragements still present to deter most employees attempting to communicate ‘over’ a line manager. Maybe that’s how the emails arrive in manageable numbers each day?


ONE THOUSAND POSTS: TEN INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS

September 6, 2013

Leaders We Deserve has always regretted the gender bias in leadership cases. For our one thousandth post, here are ten female leaders in political life who deserve mention

Maybe this the shortest blog post ever in Leaders we deserve, but one pointing to a a serious bias in leadership cases. <a href="Takepart website“>The list of ten political leaders originally appeared on the Take Part web site which supplies excellent images of all ten women. They represent various shades of political opinion, sexual orientation, private and public controversies, education, background, and numbers of assassination attempts survived. Your editor intends to include them in the next edition of the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership.

How many of the leaders can you match with their countries without further web-surfing?

The Leaders:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Angela Merkel
Dalia Grybauskaite
Dilma Rousseff
Johanna Sigurdardottir
Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Tarja Halonen
Laura Chinchilla
Julia Gillard
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

The Countries:
Argentina
Australia
Bangladesh
Brazil
Costa Rica
Finland
Germany
Iceland
Liberia
Lithuania

Acknowledgements

Takepart website where you can find images of all ten leaders.

Sean Gardner ‏@2morrowknight for his tweet which alerted me to the site.


IBM appoints Virginia Rometty as CEO

October 26, 2011

And now there are two…female leaders of great IT corporations

Viginia Rometti will become the first female chief executive officer in IBM’s 100-year history on Jan 1st [2012]. She will succeed Sam Palmisano who has been CEO since 2002, and will remain chairman.

In a month which has seen the appointment of Meg Whitman brought in as an outsider at Hewlett Packard, we now have the IBM ‘lifer’ in charge of a second US corporate giant.

To go more deeply

Virginia Rometty to head IBM as first female chief executive

Rometti knows IBM is one mistake from obselescence

IBM’s Rometty just kept on rising

10 CEOs in the making: Virginia Rometti


Does Carol Bartz disprove or confirm the glass ceiling theory?

February 19, 2009
Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz

The appointment of Carol Bartz replacing Larry Page as head of Yahoo has provided leadership headlines. Do the stories confirm the view that despite her success, prejudices against female executives still remain widely intact?

An article by the Economist on the appointment of Carol Bartz [January 17th 2009] prompted one irate reader to object of the double standards applied to male and female executives. The Economist painted a picture of someone driven by insecurities of early maternal bereavement who developed excessive discipline and who rejected notions of work life balance. For good measure the article added that at 60, she was “strikingly old” to lead an internet company.

A sympathetic and informative piece in Forbes by Carol Hymowitz

outlined evidence of her leadership capabilities at her previous role at Autodesk and makes the point that Bartz is one of

.. still just 23 woman at the helm of the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. Besides Bartz, only Paula Roseput Reynolds has been at the helm of two public companies–AGL and Safeco.

Hymowitz contrasts this with the frequency with which ousted male CEOs are hired into other big leadership roles. Her story continued:

[Bartz] was CEO at Autodesk for 14 years, much longer than most chief executives, whose median tenure is just five years, [where she] quickly imposed a more traditional management structure, with schedules for product launches and regular performance reviews. While doing this, she also coped with breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with just days after joining Autodesk Afraid to tell anyone that she had a “female disease,” she took off just a month from work after having a radical mastectomy, instead of the prescribed six to eight weeks.

During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s when Autodesk, many of her employees were suddenly being wooed to dot-com start-ups with the promise that they’d become millionaires. She convinced her best talent to stay put but also realized the Internet was radically altering business–and Autodesk had to adapt and learn to use the network to design, manufacture and market products differently.
As a business leader, Bartz also is known as someone who doesn’t hold grudges and is willing to change her mind. At one point, she fired Carl Bass, the company’s technical wizard at the time, over strategic disagreements. She quickly realized this was a mistake, hired him back a few months later and eventually named him her successor.
Bartz admitted she wasn’t ready to retire when she handed over the CEO spot to Bass in May 2006. “I cried my eyes out,” she said in an interview then. But she also knew Bass was getting offers elsewhere and she concluded that stepping aside was the right thing to do instead of spending years grooming another successor. “It’s very good to leave a job when you still love it,” she said at the time.

What do you think?

I know that female leaders in the business world have not been given the same sort of publicity as their male counterparts. I scan the papers regularly to add examples to my meagre collection. Carol Hymowitz argues that the glass ceiling is still pretty much intact. That is to say, the lack of case examples reflects a deficit of women in top executive roles. It’s an old argument. Is Hymowitz right that it is still salient? What do you think?