Propylon CEO

10 Questions with Propylon’s CEO

Values-driven leadership is an important part of Propylon’s approach to business. We talked with Propylon’s CEO John Harrington to see what makes him tick and how this influences the organization’s business strategy.

1. What makes a good business?

In my view, a good business is one that has a clear strategy and direction, values its employees, and values its customers. You need to have a clear plan that can be translated into the work that your team do every day. This sets everybody up for success.

2. What is the best advice you ever received?

Don’t be afraid of partnerships. I have seen many examples where companies fail to grow because they fear partner companies. When it comes to our products and projects, we always adopt a partnership approach. This is the best way to get successful solutions and enjoy yourself while you are doing it.

3. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

I did a newspaper delivery round at the age of 10/11 and I really enjoyed it. It taught me that doing the simple things right made customers happy. Too often in the technical world we are focused on solving big, complex problems and can forget the small things that make people happy on a daily basis.

4. where do you see Propylon in 10 years' time?

Tough question! Everybody in the legal research world is talking about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will affect the job of lawyers and legal staff. I believe that our software will support the work of attorneys and legal professionals across the globe – not replace them. So much of the law is grey and is the result of opinion. It cannot be turned into mathematical formulae, but the aids available for staff can be greatly improved.

5. What was the biggest challenge you've faced in your career and how did you deal with it?

I once had to deal with negative press about our company. My choice was to air some client issues and protect our company or focus on the client. I chose the latter and I now know it was the right thing to do. You can’t control everything that people write online. You can only do your best to constantly help your customers and employees get the most out of what you do.

So much of the law is grey and is the result of opinion. It cannot be turned into mathematical formulae, but the aids available for staff can be greatly improved.

6. What is the most important thing you're working on now?

Planning for the future. I have a fantastic team that works with me to run the business on a daily basis. As Propylon’s CEO, it’s crucial that I spend as much time as possible looking to the areas of growth and opportunity for the next three-to-five year period.

7. How do you develop talent?

I believe you have to give people room for growth. If team members look to take on more responsibility, and they can show demonstrable results, then I will always encourage them to grow further.

8. Who do You most admire and why?

My mother. She passed away last year and, since she has gone, I realize now more than ever how much she stitched the whole family together. She was old-school and had a strength and fairness that has helped me learn how to be a leader.

9. What quality do you most admire and why?

Optimism. I think it can be hard to stay optimistic every day dealing with the realities of life, but it is so important to bring hope and optimism into people’s lives.

10. Which area of technology excites you most?

I have a particular interest in how digital versions of official documents, such as laws, will be validated in years to come. We have such a long history of putting trust in ink-signed, printed copies of documents. I think there will be some interesting challenges in years to come to challenge the authenticity of certain official documents. I also find the world of legal research fascinating – will the advent of AI tools and their associated algorithms build bias into legal decisions? Watch this space!