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Jazz Shapers

Shaper: James Reed

I grew up with the business. It was a very friendly dynamic place and it was a place I felt very comfortable in.

Education is really important – you can take it anywhere with you and it is with you forever.

When I left University I wanted to work for an entrepreneur, so I rang up or wrote to a number of entrepreneurs and Anita Roddick, who founded The Body Shop, called and said, ‘will you come for an interview’.

My dad said, ‘you know what, there aren’t that many rides in the fairground, so if you have got the opportunity to get on one you should think about it.’

Following my dad was no mean feat and I was worried of failure.  That fear of failure probably kept me on the fence longer than it should have done and that was an early lesson.

A degree of insecurity is no bad thing and I definitely still have that.

With business, like comedy, timing is very important.  You want to get in and get out at the right time.

Our business is built around people.  They are our number one priority.

An IT contractor who was working for us, who worked part time doing children’s parties as Pancake the clown, suggested we should have a website and offered to build it for us.  The truth of the matter is we got Pancake to build our first prototype.

If the bus looks like it is going somewhere interesting, get on it.

If someone starts talking about something that I don’t know about, I always want to know more rather than pretend that I already know it all.

James Reed

James Reed is Chairman of REED, the recruitment, HR and training specialist. He became Operations Director of Reed Employment in 1994, and was appointed Chief Executive in 1997. The company now spans Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific and delivers recruitment services across 30 different specialisms. REED also runs, Europe’s biggest private sector job site and delivers Welfare to Work services through Reed in Partnership, placing over 125,000 people who had been unemployed back into work.

Before joining REED, James worked for the Body Shop, Saatchi and Saatchi, Afghanaid, Help the Aged, and latterly as a producer of documentaries and factual programmes for BBC TV. James graduated from Christ Church, Oxford in 1984 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and he subsequently gained an MBA from Harvard Business School. Put Your Mindset to Work, a book co-authored by James Reed and Paul G. Stoltz, was published in May 2011.

Shapers: Matt Clifford & Alice Bentinck

Matt Clifford is the Co-Founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First, the leading technology company builder in Europe and South East Asia. Entrepreneur First invests in top technical individuals to help them build world-class, deep technology start-ups from scratch in six locations across Europe and Asia. Holding degrees from Cambridge and MIT, Matt started his career [...]


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A hi-tech future fuelled by an entrepreneurial and technologically savvy generation underpins the vision of governments across the Middle East as they seek to reduce oil dependency and transform their economies. Challenges persist, not least of a regulatory and political nature, but momentum is gathering. This year is already set to break records for start-ups [...]


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