James A. Reed (contractor)

James A. Reed MA MBA FCIPD (born April 1963 in Woking, Surrey ) is the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Reed group of companies, which includes Reed Specialist Recruitment, Reed Learning, Reed in Partnership and Reed Online. He is the son of Sir Alec Reed , who founded the company in 1960.


Reed attended Scaitcliffe’s prep school and St Paul’s . He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford in 1984 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and subsequently gained an MBA from the Harvard Business School , where he went to study.

At Oxford, Reed was Political Editor of Samizdat , a magazine for political science students. At Harvard he produced a case study and video on slum improvement works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia . Titled In The Shadow of The City , [1] the case study was taught at Harvard and other Universities. Reed was editor of Harbus News , the Harvard Business School’s student news organization.

Early career

Reed’s first job was in a cemetery, gravelling serious at a burial site in Old Windsor. In an interview with The Independent newspaper in 2000 Reed said: “I got the job because of an old lady asked my predecessor what he was doing digging up her husband’s serious. “It was miserable, it was cold, it was horrible and hard – and I was not very long at it.” [2]

After graduating from Oxford in 1984, Reed sought to work for an entrepreneur. He wrote a speculative job application to Gordon and Anita Roddick of the Body Shop plc. The couple later joined Gordon. Reed has described his time at the Body Shop as his transition from University to the world of work. He has quoted Anita Roddick as an influence, saying: “If a bottle of jojoba hand lotion was not displayed properly on the shelf, it would pull you up on it. , and getting the details right. ” [3]

During 1985-1986 Reed worked as a media planner / buyer for Saatchi & Saatchi plc, where he planned and managed advertising campaigns for British Rail , Club 18-30 , Eurotunnel and Procter and Gamble .

In 1987/1988 Reed worked for Afghanistan and the Aged , coordinating relief and development programs in Bangladesh , Pakistan and Soviet-occupied Afghanistan . In Afghanistan he established a village assistance program for farmers affected by regional conflict, coordinated fundraising, publicity and sponsorship services for Afghani and reported on the Afghan conflict for the Independent newspaper. [4] In order to enter Afghanistan from Pakistan’s border, Reed traveled disguised as an Afghan with a party of Mujahideen rebels. [5]

Following his graduation from Harvard in 1990, Reed began a two-year production course at the BBC , where he worked as an assistant producer on documentaries and factual programs. These included BBC TV’s ‘Business Matters’, for which Reed produced Crazy Ways for Crazy Days , a 50-minute documentary about guru Tom Peters , and The Pros and the Cons , an inside view of prison privatization at Strangeways . After the Tom Peters documentary grossed £ 1m, Reed requested funding to make a similar program – goal was turned down. [6]

Reed became a non-executive director of Reed in 1992. In a 2014 radio interview, Reed spoke of the circumstances leading up to joining the full-time business:

Joining the family business was not accomplished . When my father got to say “James, there’s no point in having a family business”, “I’m getting to where do you think about these things.” I’d been sitting on the fence for some time. Then one day he said: ‘That job that I’ve been talking to you about? It’s going to be in The Sunday Times Appointments section next week – do you want to apply or not? “It was a very successful entrepreneur who would set up this business and he was well I was worried about failing, and I was worried about failing.

-  James Reed, Jazz Business FM Shapers Interview , 2014, 7m 07s

Reed Group

Joined the Reed Group Full-Time in April 1994, as Director of Operations. He became Chief Executive in February 1997. [7] To symbolize the handover of control of the company, Reed’s father presented with a conductor’s baton mounted in a glass case. The baton now hangs on the wall of Reed’s personal office at Covent Garden, London. [8]

In press interviews, Reed is often asked to respond to the accusation that his appointment to the family is an act of nepotism ; he has consistently offered unqualified agreement. In a 2010 Guardian interview he said “There is no other way of Describing it”, [9] and in a 2013 interview with Associated Newspapers he said: ‘The family joke Is That I had a 30-year interview and Eventually got in’ . [10] Reed’s father is quoted as believing that family-run businesses “… cut out a lot of company politics”. [11] Reed succeeded in the position of Chairman in 2004. [12]

Reed has said that it is one of the most important contributions to the Reed Group to the development of reed.co.uk, the advent of Reed In Partnership and the globalization of the company. [13]

Welfare-to-work (Reed In Partnership)

In 1997 the Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson invited Reed to bid for the inaugural contracts issued by the newly elected Blair Government which, as part of its New Deal program, saw some of the traditional work of outsourced Private Sector Centers to the private sector. As of 2011, The Reed In Partnership employed 900 staff. Reed has expanded the business into Poland and Australia.


As chief executive, Reed Executive Director of the UK Stock Exchange in 2003, buying back the company for 140p per share, at a valuation of £ 62.6 million and at 18% premium to the previous day’s closing price. Shares in Reed Executive rose 15% following the announcement. [9] [14]

At the time, some financial commentators suggest that the Reed family is taking a toll in the firm’s share price, in the wake of both a cyclical downturn and the controversy over Reed’s decision to spin off Reed Health. [15] [16] (Two years later Reed would launch a £ 38m hostile takeover for Reed Health, following which the company eventually came under the Reed family’s control).

Reed stated that the firm was delisted because it In his autobiography, Reed’s father suggests that the de-listing was due in part to the publication of the Higgs and Cadbury reports into public company governance, both of which are called for wide-ranging restrictions on directors and their appointments. [6]


reed.co.uk was the first recruitment website offered by a recruitment agency in the UK. [17] It launched in 1995 with 40 vacancies. It now advertises over 200,000 vacancies a day. In interview, Reed has made light of the fact that the company has been suggested and built by a young IT contractor named “Pancake the Clown”, after his business as a children’s entertainer. In a 2014 interview with JazzFM, Reed said: “The truth of the matter is, I got Pancake the Clown to build our first prototype” [18]

Reed has also been said to be “horrified” when a young member of staff suggests that the firm should open its doors. Reed would go on to approve the experiment; the scheme began in May 2000 and by November of the same year over 2000 rival firms had registered on the site. Reed would be on the idea of ​​being the foundation of the firm’s online strategy; the junior staff member was paid a £ 100,000 bonus for his suggestion. [19]

Media commentary

Reed comments in the media on employment issues, including zero-hours contracts, workplace skills, taxation reform for families and improving opportunities for prisoners and ex-prisoners. [20] [21] [22] [23]

Reed is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and was formerly an Associate of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and a member of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) ‘s business-led Taskforce on Race Equality and Diversity in the Private Sector. In the run-up to the 2010 General Election, Reed conducted public video-interviews with the Parliamentary Nominees nominated for the role of Secretary of State ( Steve Webb , Yvette Cooper and Theresa May ), asking questions sent in by job hunters. [24]

Television appearances

Since 2008, Reed has been depicted in a series of humorous TV adverts featuring the actor and comedian Rufus Jones . Some of these adverts have been directed by the previous year’s winners of Reed’s Annual Short Film Competition. [25]

The adverts with Jones introducing himself as James Reed. Jones’ portrayal of Reed is a knowingly over-acted caricature of a comic book superhero, one who has the superpower to transform job-hunters into their ideal vocation. [26] In a advert Reed makes a cameo appearance as an ice cream seller Who is transformed into a nightclub DJ by James Reed as played by Jones. The adverts have received more than 28 million YouTube views. [27] The 2016 TV campaign sees Jones playing Reed as a comic knight.

Reed has made appearances in Series 11 and Series 13 of BBC Television’s The Apprentice .


Reed is a trustee of several Reed family charitable initiatives, including The Reed Foundation and The Big Give Trust . The Big Give was founded by James’s father Sir Alec Reed in 2007 and raised to £ 82m for UK-registered charities.

Grenfell Tower appeal

Reed’s home in London is within sight of Grenfell Tower. After witnessing the Grenfell Tower fire at first hand, Reed set up a Big Give charity appeal which raised £ 1m within 48 hours of the fire breaking out. The appeal went to £ 2.6m before being closed in September 2017. Reed donated £ 100,000 of its own money and The Reed Foundation donated to more than £ 100,000, donations made by members of the public, businesses and local organizations. The appeal was made to the K & C Foundation. Reed called for some of the appealing funds, a neighborhood to teach digital skills. [28] [29]


Put Your Mindset to Work

Coauthored by Reed and Harvard Lecturer Paul G. Stoltz, Put Your Mindset to Work was published by Portfolio Penguin in May 2011. The book offers research data underlining the importance of employee mindset, citing that 97% of employers would put their mindset ahead of skill set when recruiting. The book goes on to identify three elements of a competitive employment mindset, namely Global, Good and Grit , which summarizes as “the 3G’s”. Global is said by the authors to measure an employee’s ability to set their actions and decisions in a global context; Good refers to an employee’s sensitivity to people and the desire to do good for others; Gritreferences an employee’s tenacity and intensity in the workplace. [30]

Put Your Mindset to Work The CMI Management Book of the Year Award in the Commuters’ Read category. [31] The book entered the USA Today best-seller list in June 2011. [32] A second edition of the work of August 2012, with Timeline CEO James Timpson, Gordon Roddick and management author Jim Kouzes.

Why You: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again

Reed published a second book for Penguin Portfolio in January 2015. Titled Why You: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again , the book features examples of interview questions and strategies for answering them, based on reed obtained from Reed’s network of hirers, recruiters and interviewed. [33]The book is about to be a candidate, but it is a question of variations on just different issues, which reed terms “The Fateful Fifteen”. He encourages candidates to report on the question of interviewing these 15, but he also cautions against preparing questions in advance, arguing that such an approach is the reason why many people complain about the absence of genuine and spontaneous conversations with candidates.

Bookbag.co.uk awarded the title “Highly Recommended” in its review section; [34] The Notting Hill Post called the book “… essential reading” [35]

Personal life

Reed is married to Nicola; they live in London and Wiltshire. They have six children. His hobbies are said to include running, riding and driving horses, and mountaineering football. [3] He has participated in two Alpine Alpine Leadership Challenges led by the alpinist Stefan Gatt.

Reed has identified his father as the most admires in the recruitment industry, and King Alfred the Great as his boyhood hero. [36]


  1. Jump up^ James Reed; Anne Donnelon; Nicholas Richardson. “In the Shadow of the City” . HBR.Org . Harvard . Retrieved 26 August 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ Davies, Clancy (22 November 2000). “Twenty Questions: James Reed, Chief Executive, Reed Executive” . Independent.co.uk . Archived fromthe original on 21 March 2009 . Retrieved 30 July 2014 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:Doke b , DeeDee. “Venturing into fresh fishing grounds” . Recruiter . Redactive Publishing Limited . Retrieved 29 July 2014 . She brought huge energy into her work and loved what she did. She also had incredible attention to detail.
  4. Jump up^ Reed, James (23 December 1987). “How The Stinger Has Transformed The Afghan War”. Independent.co.uk .
  5. Jump up^ Jones, Lyndsey (April 22, 1988). “Behind Enemy Lines: Relief worker’s close-up view of the Afghan war”. One of the officers told me to wear the clothes and the clothes on the bus … so that’s what I did and it was quite easy
  6. ^ Jump up to:b Alec Reed; Judi Bevan (5 January 2012). I Love Mondays: The autobiography of Sir Alec Reed CBE . Profile Books. pp. 130-131. ISBN  1-84765-767-2 .
  7. Jump up^ Hirschkorn, Jenny (April 2002). “Interview: A Family Affair” . Accountancy Live . Wolters Kluwer . Retrieved 29 July 2014 .
  8. Jump up^ Alec Reed; Judi Bevan (5 January 2012). I Love Mondays: The autobiography of Sir Alec Reed CBE . Profile Books. ISBN  1-84765-767-2 .
  9. ^ Jump up to:b Teather, David (3 June 2010). “Alec and James Reed: Recruitment is just the job for father and son” . The Guardian . Scott Trust. “It was quite a big deal for me.” I was only 34 and it was a bit sooner than I had expected
  10. Jump up^ Owen, Vicki. “I do not like the zero hours deal” – James Reed on controversial pay plans ” . ThisIsMoney.co.uk . Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 26 August 2014 .
  11. Jump up^ Colin Barrow; Robert Brown; Liz Clarke (2004). The Business Enterprise Handbook . Kogan Page Publishers. p. 344. ISBN  978-0-7494-4100-5 . Retrieved 4 August 2014 . You know the MD will not be headhunted
  12. Jump up^ Duff, Charlie (20 July 2010). James Reed: The Three Rs – Recruitment, Retention and Relationships . HR Zone . Sift Media . Retrieved 30 July2014 .
  13. Jump up^ “Ten Minutes with … .James Reed” . January 24, 2012 . Retrieved 30 July 2014 .
  14. Jump up^ “Executive Reed to go private” . StockMarketWire.com . 4 April 2003. Retrieved 4 August 2014 . Due to negative market sentiment towards smaller quoted companies and the increasing illiquidity of the Reed Ordinary Shares, the directors of James Reed & Partners believe that the benefits to the company have been significantly eroded.
  15. Jump up^ George, Jemma (4 April 2004). “Reed Executive jumps on MBO move” . Citywire.co.uk . Retrieved 4 August 2014 . Robert Walters, Michael Page, PSD, and Whitehead Mann, Robert Walters, Michael Page, PSD, and Whitehead Mann … their share prices continue to languish at new lows creating opportunities for corporate action.
  16. Jump up^ Prynn, Jonathan (2 December 2002). “Reed sackings put Sawyer on spot” . This is Money . Associated Newspapers . Retrieved 31 July 2014. In the name of the executive director of the executive board of directors, Christa Echtle and finance director Desmond Doyle, effective terminating their contracts on the spot. Echtle … believes Alec Reed intervened because of a resolution at the annual meeting to issue new shares to fund acquisitions. It is understood Alec Reed did not want a dilution of its controlling holding in the company.
  17. Jump up^ “E-MAIL US YOUR CV, PLEASE” . Management Today . Retrieved 4 August 2014 .
  18. Jump up^ “Business Shapers – James Reed” . JazzFM . Retrieved 4 August2014 .
  19. Jump up^ Doke, DeeDee (31 July 2004). “Venturing into fresh fishing grounds” . Recruiter.co.uk . Retrieved 31 July 2014 .
  20. Jump up^ Warrell, Helen (October 3, 2011). “Give prisoners better luck to find work, say company chiefs” . FT.com . Pearson . Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  21. Jump up^ Owen, Vicki (3 August 2013). ” ‘ I do not like the zero hours deal – it’s better than no work at all’: James Reed on controversial pay plans . “This Is Money . Associated Newspapers . Retrieved 31 July 2014 . ‘I do not like zero-hour jobs, do not get me wrong, but they are part of the scene’
  22. Jump up^ “It works, when you put your mind to it” . Recruiter.co.uk . Retrieved 31 July 2014 .
  23. Jump up^ Clark, Andrew (November 14, 2011). “Family firms call for help to remain going concerns” . TimesOnline.co.uk . News International . Retrieved 4 August 2014 .
  24. Jump up^ “Reed.co.uk Election Interviews” . YouTube . Retrieved 31 July 2014 .
  25. Jump up^ “Street 40” . YouTube . Retrieved 30 July 2014 . 4m23s
  26. Jump up^ “Reed.co.uk launches major TV campaign” . OnRec.com . Retrieved 31 July 2014 .
  27. Jump up^ “Analytics for ReedOnline” . YouTube . Retrieved 21 December 2015 .
  28. Jump up^ “Reed Chairman makes plea to push The Big Deal matching fund for Grenfell Tower victims to £ 3m” . City Philanthropy . 2017-06-22 . Retrieved 2017-11-15 .
  29. Jump up^ “Big Give Grenfell appeal raises £ 2.6m: its biggest ever total for an individual cause” . UK Fundraising . 2017-09-07 . Retrieved 2017-11-15 .
  30. Jump up^ Chynoweth, Carly (6 June 2011). “Attitude is worth more than skills” . SundayTimes.co.uk . News International . Retrieved 4 August 2014 . Back in the worst days of the financial crisis in 2008 I went to a seminar and one of the speakers I remember thinking ‘no, of course we do not, but I do not know the people I want to hire’, and it was all about mindset. “
  31. Jump up^ “CMI: Management Book of the Year 2012 – Lady Mary Marsh” . YouTube . IJC. Feb 2012 . Retrieved 4 August 2014 .
  32. Jump up^ “Put Your Mindset to Work” . USA Today . Retrieved 4 August 2014 .
  33. Jump up^ “Why You? 101 WAYS TO SHINE AT INTERVIEW” . Penguin.co.uk . Retrieved 31 July 2014 .
  34. Jump up^ Lesley Mason. “Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again by James Reed” . TheBookbag.co.uk . Retrieved 1 February2016 .
  35. Jump up^ Mary-Lu Bakker. “HOW TO BE A GOOD INTERVIEWEE … GO TO DO NOT FORGET YOUR SHIRT” . The Notting Hill Post . Retrieved 1 February 2016 .
  36. Jump up^ Jacobs, Emma (July 2011). “20 questions: James Reed” . FT.com . Pearson . Retrieved 31 July 2014 . My boyhood hero, King Alfred the Great. He was very good at the house, but he turned the country for the better and gave the Vikings a good thrashing.

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