Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green revealed that she put herself forward for the role rather than being headhunted.
She cold-called chairman Frank Meysman to say: “You need me,” she disclosed at Fortune’s Powerful Women conference in London.
Green, former head of electrical distribution group Premier Farnell, took the top job at Cook last July.
She argued that the headhunters would not have chosen her because they were looking for someone with experience in the travel business.
“I hadn’t done travel. But I had done other transformations,” she said, adding she had no connections with Meysman.
“I had never met him in my life,” she said. Green disclosed she had no assistance from the firm handling the search.
“In fact the headhunter involved was unbelievably unhelpful,” she said.
Green said she emailed Meysman twice. Her note was “quite short” she said.
“It had a summary saying ‘this is why you need me’, then a CV and a plan of what I could do,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
She advised women to “use technology and cut out the middle men… don’t go the conventional route.”
Green said: “Go straight to the chairs, FTSE 250, 100, say this is me, this is why I’m great, at some stage you will need me.”
She added: “The great thing about governance is that all these people and the chairman are known, use the technology to really get through.”
One of her first tasks in turning around Cook was to replace the board almost entirely. Of the seven directors, three – including herself – are women.
Green disclosed that the company was looking to appoint two more non-executives to complete the shake-up.
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