(17 Jun 2008)
"Mike Harris is one of the most intelligent, sensitive and diligent innovators and original thinkers I have the privilege and good fortune of knowing."
DK Matai Chairman and founder of mi2g (Winner of the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2003) and Co-Founder, The Philanthropia
An entrepreneur born and bred
Having spent the first 15 years of his career in IT at Midland bank, Mike Harris was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug - he has been involved in creating businesses ever since.
His first experience was as director of Space-Time Systems – a start up which grew to become one of the largest event ticketing operators in Europe.
When Space – Time was sold in 1987, Mike became an IT consultant for a short period before he was asked to return to Midland where he was a founding CEO of the world’s first major telephone bank Firstdirect.
In 1992 he dedicated his talents to the role of Chief Executive at Mercury Communications ( a Cable and Wireless Company) where he built a new consumer fixed line telephone business and was Chairman of mobile company One to One.
These two businesses were eventually sold netting Cable and Wireless a total of $10bn in cash.
Transforming the financial services landscape worldwide
He was subsequently a founding CEO of Prudential Banking plc and then its successor, Egg – the first major player in internet banking in the UK and for several years the largest internet bank in the world.
Egg went from start up to a billion pound public company in 2 years and went on to confound its critics by storming into profit in 2001. Mike retired as CEO of Egg in January 2001, taking on the part time role of Executive Vice Chairman.
He is currently chairman and co-founder of digital identity experts Garlik – a company which was created in 2005 in order to give individuals and their families more power over the way their personal information is used in the digital world. It has the inventor of the World Wide Web – Tim Berners-Lee – on its advisory board.
Mike is also chairman of innovation at the Royal Bank of Scotland and has been a regular speaker at mid-career MBA courses at the Sloan business School MIT since 1996. He often speaks at public seminars and runs private workshops on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.
His clients have included O2, IBM, Colt, Intel, Oracle, Adobe, Bank of Ireland and EDS.
Cash is King!
On a more personal note, Mike was born in 1949 in the West Midlands. He grew up in the heart of an extended family who lived in several houses on the premises of Fred Corbett’s Garages - Dudley’s Leading Motor Company - a successful business founded by his grandfather.
He still recalls his grandfather’s constant concerns about having enough cash to pay the wages every week during the 1950s. As the business prospered during the following decade, this became less of an issue, but the motto cash is king still resonates strongly with him whenever he’s creating new businesses. He is married with two grown-up children and lives in Oxfordshire. He is a Bob Dylan fan and an Aston Villa supporter. He enjoys theatre, cinema, travel, challenging walks and spending time with his family.