In Memoriam – Gareth Jones

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Professor Gareth Jones 1951-2021

It is with great sadness that I share the news that my long-time friend and collaborator, Gareth Jones, has died suddenly at the age of 69.

Gareth came to Kent to complete his MA in Sociology in 1973 – and we both then went on to complete doctorates there.

His subsequent career spanned both the academic and business worlds. He began as a lecturer in sociology at the University of East Anglia from the mid- 1970s to mid ‘80s. He then moved to join the faculty at London Business School.

Together, over the next several decades, we co-authored several best-selling books and articles on leadership and organisational culture including: The Character of a Corporation: How Your Culture Can Make or Break Your Business, and Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?. The related Harvard Business Review article Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? won the prestigious McKinsey Award in 2000.

During this time Gareth also took on two senior corporate roles. In 1993 He joined Polygram as the Senior Vice President for Global Human Resources where his responsibilities covered more than 30 countries. Later, in 2000, he became Director of Human Resources and Internal Communications at the BBC.

In between these two spells he had been appointed as the BT Professor of Organisational Development at Henley Management College, where he also served on the Board of Governors. Later on, he had visiting positions at other business schools including INSEAD, France and IE in Madrid. An extraordinary and charismatic teacher, Gareth will be remembered fondly by alumni and colleagues at each of these institutions. He is widely celebrated as a transformative thought-leader and an inspiration to many individuals and organisations around the world.

In both his teaching and writing Gareth was always keen to connect the major themes of “classic” sociology to the challenges faced by contemporary work organisations. He valued immensely his student days at Kent – in what he regularly remembered as a strong and vibrant sociology department. It was a truly formative experience.

Throughout, Gareth led a rich social life – much of it revolving around family, friends, sport, politics and pubs. There was rarely a place that he lived – including Canterbury – where he did not have an intimate knowledge of the very best locals. He was a regular in the Kent University staff football team.

Gareth was able to move easily between people from different backgrounds and cultures. His wide range of interests – in philosophy, history and literature as well as sport, gardening, music and cooking – meant he was always able to strike up an easy conversation.

Latterly, living in Hove, he became a much-loved local and there has been a huge community response to his passing.

He is survived by his wife Shirley and three children Rhian, Gemma and Robbie.

Words by Rob Goffee- Emeritus Professor London Business School