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John Harvey Jones

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United Kingdom

John Harvey-Jones

TV shows

Years of service

Royal Navy


John Harvey-Jones John HarveyJones SirJohnHJ Twitter

Other work
Company director, television presenter, author and university chancellor

January 9, 2008, Hereford, United Kingdom

British Academy Television Award for Best Originality

Making It Happen, Troubleshooter 2, All together now, Getting it together, Sir John Harvey‑Jones: In His Ow

University of Cambridge

Battles and wars
World War II, Cold War

World War II Cold War

Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE (16 April 1924 – 9 January 2008) was an English businessman. He was the chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries from 1982 to 1987. He was best known by the public for his BBC television show, Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses.


John Harvey-Jones idailymailcoukipix20090523article1186982

Early life

John Harvey-Jones My First Job From Cleaner To CEO Steve Tappin LinkedIn

John Henry Harvey-Jones was born in Hackney, London, but spent most of his early childhood in Dhar, India, where his father was a guardian to a teenage maharajah. He was shipped back to Britain at age six to attend a prep school at Deal, Kent. He entered Dartmouth Royal Naval College at age 13.

Royal Navy career

John Harvey-Jones Sir John HarveyJones Telegraph

Harvey-Jones joined Dartmouth Royal Naval College as a cadet in 1937, and in 1940, at the age of 16, he joined HMS Diomede as a midshipman. The next two ships that he served with, HMS Ithuriel and HMS Quentin, were sunk by enemy action. Harvey-Jones went on to join the submarine service in 1942, and received his first command at age 24.

John Harvey-Jones Making It Happen Reflections on Leadership Amazoncouk John

With the end of World War II, Harvey-Jones went to the University of Cambridge to learn Russian in six months and joined Naval Intelligence as an interpreter. He married Mary Bignell in 1947, and he commanded the Russian intelligence section under the guise of the "British Baltic Fishery Protection Service", which used two ex-German E-boats for gathering clandestine intelligence on the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Rising to the rank of lieutenant-commander, Harvey-Jones was awarded a military MBE in 1952 for his work in Naval Intelligence, although his citation stated that the award was for "fishery protection duties in the Baltic".

Imperial Chemical Industries

John Harvey-Jones John HarveyJones The Economist

Refused permission by the Royal Navy to spend more time with his wife and daughter Gaby, who had contracted polio, he resigned his commission in 1956 and joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) on Teesside as a junior training manager. In 1973, at age 49, he was promoted to sit on the main board of directors. In April 1982, he became chairman of ICI, only the second split-career man and non-chemist to reach the top.

Mentored in part by John Adair, Harvey-Jones saw his responsibilities to both stockholders and employees as "making a profit out of the markets where the market is". He maintained a firm belief in "speed rather than direction", on the assumption that "once travelling a company can veer and tack towards the ultimate objective." Thus, at the business level he cut non-profit making and what he saw as non-core businesses, so that at board level he could concentrate on putting more power in fewer hands "to reduce the number of those who can say 'no' and increase the motivation of those who can say 'yes'", maintaining that "there are no bad troops, only bad leaders". After only 30 months in the job, having cut the UK workforce by one third, he had doubled the price of ICI shares and turned a loss into a one billion pound profit.

Media career

According to one newspaper, it was the BBC's Troubleshooter series, first broadcast in 1990, that made Harvey-Jones the most famous industrialist since Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It ran to five series and several specials in the 1990s and also won him a BAFTA award. His advice was at times controversial – in particular he was critical of the Morgan Motor Company, which some argue was vindicated, as it is still trading successfully today.

Other positions

In 1989, he became chairman of The Economist, was a non-executive director of Grand Metropolitan plc (now part of Diageo), and honorary vice-president of the Institute of Marketing.

Harvey-Jones was also chairman of the Burns-Anderson Group plc, a conglomerate spanning merchant banking (Burns-Anderson Trade Finance), financial services (Kelland & Partners Ltd headed by Steve Kelland), recruitment (Premiere Recruitment headed by Dorian Marks), marketing and business services (Ultimate Response headed by Eric Baskind) and stockbroking (W.H. Ireland Stephens & Co Ltd).

Between 1986 and 1991, Harvey-Jones served as the second Chancellor of the University of Bradford. A commemorative painting exists in the University of Bradford collection, and Harvey-Jones also agreed to sit for sculptor Jon Edgar for a terracotta portrait at Clyro in July 2004.

He was chairman of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and member of the Advisory Council of the Prince's Trust. In 2001, he became the president of the MS Trust.

Personal life

Described by The Guardian as one of the best-known British advocates of Transcendental Meditation, Harvey-Jones said, "I don't make a drama out of a crisis. If I gave it up now, my wife would leave me." Having lived most of his post-retirement period in Ross-on-Wye, he died in his sleep after a long illness, aged 83, at the Hereford County Hospital.


  • In 1952 he was awarded a military MBE for his work in Naval Intelligence.
  • In 1985 he was voted Britain's most impressive industrialist by company directors interviewed for MORI's annual "Captains of Industry" survey.
  • He was knighted for services to industry in 1985.
  • In 1986, 1987 and 1988, he received the title of "Industrialist of the Year".
  • In 1992 was awarded the title "Motivator of the Year".
  • In 1992 he won a BAFTA for his Troubleshooter series.
  • References

    John Harvey-Jones Wikipedia