Spend a few minutes with Harry Brandicourt and you may be surprised by all he has accomplished at this point in his career. Athena’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Growth came to us with an impressive résumé and a wide range of skillsets which perfectly matched our needs. A quick look at his background and you’ll see why he is the right person at the right time for Athena.
Education and Military Service
After attending The Webb School (a college preparatory in Bell Buckle, Tennessee), Harry was nominated to the Naval Academy by Al Gore. While choosing his area of service after graduation, he developed an approach that would guide him in making decisions to this day. “My whole career has been shaped around finding where there are new opportunities for positive change and where I can make a difference,” he said. “Then I go in and work hard to make that opportunity a reality.”
About half of his Navy class was choosing the traditional ship-driving surface Navy, flying jets, or the Marine Corps – only 10% were going the nuclear route. So, Harry chose nuclear engineering and was placed on CGN-80 – a nuclear fueled cruiser. Soon, he was in the Caribbean conducting counter-narcotics missions.
Making a Mark in Business
After the Navy, Harry was hired by Delphi Packard – a division of General Motors. He began as 2nd shift manufacturing foreman. His talent and drive were soon recognized, and he quickly worked his way up to 1st shift and then engineering supervisor for the entire plant. Eventually, he was named an engineer on the design team for the new full-size pickup trucks launched in 1999 and 2000 – a program using new 3D design technology and slated to deliver nearly two million vehicles.
He was then selected to be a GM Fellow, which sent him to Cornell for his Masters in Engineering. When he asked to simultaneously get his MBA, GM gave him the green light. In two years, Harry had dual Master’s degrees.
When he graduated, GM gave Harry two job locations, neither of which fit in with what he and his wife were looking for. His contract was bought out and, once again, he looked around for something new and a way to make a difference.
A Man in Demand
His instincts led him to Emerson in St. Louis, MO, where his skillsets exploded. He was asked to build out the company’s ebusiness program and began working closely with the company’s CIO. Eventually, ebusiness dropped the “e” and simply became the way business is done.
His success caught the attention of recruiters at Kennametal, where he became marketing director for ebusiness globally. He was given the opportunity to work in Europe, but 75% travel didn’t gel with his desire to be around for his wife and four kids.
A mentor from Emerson was now at Fifth Third Bank. He knew Harry had done strategic planning, procurement supply chain, logistics, offshore programs and many more things the bank had yet to implement. He needed someone he could trust to help build it and asked Harry to join.
After that, Harry joined Donovan Energy and, with his two partners, grew a business that helped clients better manage their energy usage. The goal was to bring environmentally sustainable solutions to market faster through a combination of financial incentives, new technologies, and operational efficiencies.
One day he got a call from his former boss at Kennametal, who wanted him to check out a new investment group. They had significant capital and a desire to invest it in digital technologies in the machine tool industry. Harry aced the interview with the board and became managing director of the investment group.
And that amazing journey brings us up to today, and Harry’s role with Athena. What attracted him? The job fit perfectly within his life-long career goal of finding opportunities in new areas where he could really make a difference.
Harry’s Work with Athena
Harry first joined Athena in 2018 as IMTS was approaching. The show would ultimately be Athena’s coming out party, so there was a lot to do. Marketing, logistics, messaging and PR were all involved. Immediately after the show, his focus shifted to product development. People who wanted to try Athena needed to get their hands on alphas and betas.
If you’re getting the sense that Harry’s role changes depending on whatever’s needed, you’re beginning to understand why he’s such an asset. He’s ideally suited to direct strategy for a start-up business. He reminds us what our simple (and vital goals are), and he works hard to make sure they’re achieved.
When we asked him why he’s in this industry and why Athena is so exciting, he was quick with an answer. “Machining is a fascinating and important industry. It’s vital to producing just about everything that makes the world go,” he said. “It deserves more recognition and appreciation than it currently gets. But the reality is that there is a serious shortage of new talent coming into the industry – either due to lack of awareness or interest. Athena gives us an opportunity to make a positive difference in our industry by introducing cutting edge technology that will help new machinists become capable faster and make experienced machinists even more efficient than before.”
When Harry Isn’t Working…
…he’s likely outdoors. He loves spending time with his family and friends. Whether it’s camping, hiking the Appalachian Trail, biking in Europe, or sailing the Atlantic – being out in the natural world fills him up.
Athena is still in an exciting phase, and in early days such as these, having Harry around to help steer the ship is an almost incalculable benefit. Athena has the power to transform the manufacturing industry, and with Harry around, companies will realize it sooner rather than later.