Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green really wishes she could be a Buddhist. The travel boss, who gets up at 3.30am every morning to start work and laments that Thomas Cook doesn’t have an Asian business so she could hit the phones in the very early hours, believes deeply in Buddhist humanism but just can’t reconcile herself with a certain Buddhist teaching.
“Buddhism teaches you must accept that which happens to you,” she told a room full of business women at Management Today’s Inspiring Women conference. “But that’s too hard for me, I have a need to change things.”
As a turnaround expert, its probably for the best she doesn’t conform to total acceptance.
“You can’t let that [Buddhist teaching] override things because you’d never be able to make difficult decisions. But saying that if I was going to be fired by anyone, I’d like it to be me. Being a humanist is important.”
She may not be able to give herself completely to the Buddhist ways, but Green has made sure she has a retreat in a Buddhist stronghold. She’s got a second home in Thailand. “I try to spend Christmas and New Year there, it’s a place to remember who you are.” It’s also handy for visitors. “Well, if my second home was in Croydon, no one would visit.”