Getting To Know You: Chris Harman

What do you currently do?
I am the regional vice president for Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Mindjet, which produces collaborative work management software that assists information workers to better manage workloads, projects and goals and helps teams collaborate more efficiently.

Our technology allows people to map out their work through visualisation and within that create a hub from which they can link to all other documents from emails to spreadsheets, calendars and more, so that they can keep a complete overview of a project and make teamwork easier.

I manage a team of 30 people from our UK office in West London and am responsible for the success in my region from sales to marketing and customer management.

What is your inspiration in business?
One of the big drivers for me in business has always been people development. I am a people person through and through and thrive through the interaction with others. A business’ success depends on the strength of its people and developing staff to the best of their skills and abilities will not only help build a fantastic corporate culture, it will make the business stronger.

Having helped grow an organisation from only four to thirty employees has really shown how you can only successfully expand an organisation through investment in people. Through over twenty years of experience I have always lived according to this philosophy. It does not only give me great pleasure in seeing my staff do well and enhance their horizons, it also means they enjoy their jobs, love coming to work and build strong loyalty to the organisation.

Who do you admire?
I admire people that lead teams from the front, which is very well highlighted in the world of team sport – think Martin Johnson in rugby and Andrew Strauss in cricket. I just love seeing teams being run efficiently, which I observe not just by watching my favourite sports, but also when I travel, go to restaurants or meet customers.

It’s often said that being a people person is very important in the business world and I wholeheartedly concur. While I see many fantastic team leaders every day, I have also experienced more than a fair share of bad managers. Leading by example, having a strong plan, being able to convey a clear strategy to colleagues and supporting the team throughout a project is so important. Not to be forgotten are empathy and fairness; ruthlessness will get you so far, but it won’t help in the long run when you try and push for sustainable business growth.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
Yes, I spent my first 10 years of work in accounting, but wish I had joined the IT industry sooner. Technology is such a fantastic industry to be in – it is creative, innovative, fast moving and offers endless opportunities for eager people.

Since joining the world of IT I have been working with so many fantastic people and I really enjoy working with Mindjet, as the software we develop really helps businesses work better from the front line. It gives me such joy when I hear people say how our work management software has helped them change the way they work for the better. Businesses everywhere have been under such immense pressure to do more with fewer resources. Being able to offer some help is very fulfilling.

What defines your way of doing business?
My way of doing business, internally and externally, revolves around the concept of fairness. If you play fair in business you get rewarded on every level. It earns you respect, appreciation and success.

Within Mindjet everything revolves around people, our most precious asset. I put the highest priority on making sure every employee is treated fairly, receives training, career development opportunities and mentoring to ensure his or her fullest potential is met.

Externally, it is very important to be fair to customers, provide the value that they expect and deserve and always work on trying to exceed their expectations.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Quite simply: always be yourself and true to yourself. Don’t lose your personality and try and become somebody you are not! Always remember that a business needs people with many different skills and personalities and there will be a place for you within this.

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