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Definition: Harvey-Jones, Sir John Henry from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English industrial executive

Born in Kent, he was educated at Dartmouth Naval College and served in the navy until 1956, when he joined ICI. As chairman (1982-87) he was largely responsible for reshaping the company, and from 1987 to 1996 he was chairman of Parallax Enterprises. His publications include his autobiography, Getting it Together (1991), Managing to Survive (1993) and All Together Now (1994). He appeared on several television programmes, including the BBC Troubleshooter series of business programmes (1990-95). He was knighted in 1985.

Summary Article: Harvey-Jones, John Henry
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English industrial executive, motivational speaker, and author. As chair of ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) 1982–87, Harvey-Jones became only the second non-chemist to reach the chair and was largely responsible for reshaping the company. He was famous for his 1990s television series, the Troubleshooter, in which he advised struggling businesses. His publications include his autobiography, Getting It Together (1991), Managing To Survive (1993), and All Together Now (1994).

He received the title of Industrialist of the Year in 1986, 1987, and 1988 and the title Motivator of the Year in 1992. He believed that the key to business strength was in ‘speed rather than direction’; once a company is moving it can ‘veer and tack’ as opportunities present themselves.

Born in London, he spent his early years in India, before returning for schooling in England in 1930. He went to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth and during World War II served on submarines in Europe and Australia. In 1945 the Navy sent him to Cambridge, where he qualified as a Russian and German interpreter to work in Naval Intelligence – for which he was awarded a Member (of the Order) of the British Empire (MBE) in 1952. He reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, before resigning and joining ICI in 1956. By 1973 he sat on ICI's board and served as chair 1982–87. By moving out of non-profit-making areas and reducing the company's UK workforce by a third, he turned the company from a loss-making business into a profitable one. He was knighted in 1985.


Harvey-Jones, John Henry

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