© Simon Stanmore
© Simon Stanmore

Jaguar Land Rover’s Ian Harnett on getting out of his comfort zone

As head of purchasing and HR at Jaguar Land Rover, Ian Harnett has had to be creative, strategic and entrepreneurial – and it’s been good for the business

To be brutally honest, I suppose there wasn’t a job for me.” This is a characteristically self-effacing way for Ian Harnett, Jaguar Land Rover’s executive director of human resources and global purchasing, to describe what must have been one of the great challenges of his – or any other – career in the automotive industry: steering the company out of Ford and into Tata Motors when it changed hands in 2008.

This momentous responsibility began, he says, with a casual conversation with his boss. “The CEO said to me: ‘You’ve been bought and sold more than anyone else, so why don’t you take it on?’.” Having no real answer to that, Harnett led the transition team. In retrospect, he likens his mission to the Millennium Bug. “Everything had to happen on a certain date and it was as if after that everything would be darkness, pestilence and plague, but the day came and everything functioned as normal.”

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