Digby Jones discovered the importance of good customer care at an early age and the concept of profit and loss, the very essence of good business management became an everyday reality for him, and when the, the supermarkets began to move to his area in the mid-sixties, he also learned about the vulnerability of business. At the age of 10 his parents sold their shop and his father became a full-time student, living off a grant, before he finally qualified as a Probation Officer.
His mother worked as an Assistant Physiotherapist at the local hospital. It was at this period of his life when Digby first became aware of two very different aspects of the public sector.
The young Digby showed early promise, he learnt a lot about business from his family owning the shop. Digby enjoyed his school life and worked hard, to ensure his futures success, he was always ambitious and full of life. For much of his childhood money was scarce, but the Jones children had a good life with “much love” and “lots of laughter and fun”. This, he says, made him appreciate the importance of family values as well as good money management. His graduation from University College London was followed by 20 years with Edge & Ellison, a Birmingham-based firm of lawyers, where he worked his way up from Articled Clerk to Senior Partner.
During these years he was intimately involved in all aspects of business from running the firm “as a business” to recruiting and managing several hundred employees. It was here that he developed a vision of business and its role in society, and began to believe firmly in socially inclusive wealth creation.
In 2000 he joined the CBI and was able to put some of these ideas into action. During his six and a half years as Director General he became known in the public arena especially for his candid, forthright attitude in his many media appearances. He campaigned relentlessly on a range of issues including the move from traditional manufacturing of commodities to value-added, innovative products and services. His views on the Public Sector remain a subject of great debate. He has stressed that, "if fundamental reform does not take place, from working practices right through to pension provision, we will end up with an ever-diminishing private sector trying to pay for, and provide pensions for, an ever increasing and inefficient, unproductive, self-interested public sector".
In 2005 he was knighted for his services to business and became Sir Digby Jones in the Queen’s New Years Honours List. When he left the CBI in 2006 he spent the next 12 months in the private sector as adviser to Deloitte and Barclays Capital, held a variety of non-executive board roles, and was the unpaid UK Skills Envoy. In this role he became outraged about the levels of adult illiteracy and innumeracy in the UK, and made the point that we cannot hope to have a safer and healthier society if people lack self-respect or aspiration.
In July 2007 he was appointed Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment and became a life peer taking the title, Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kt. Forthright and, as ever, loyal to British business he spent the next 15 months “doing it in a different way”. He did not join the party of government and without the ambition to progress in politics he concentrated on the business of promoting Britain across the world, travelling to 31 countries in 45 overseas visits. Now, in addition to his role as an active crossbencher in the House of Lords he serves as Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Limited, a Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of the Unipart Expert Practices (UEP) Division and Chairman of Grove Industries.
He is Corporate Adviser to JCB, Adviser to BP plc, Senior Adviser to Harvey Nash plc, Corporate Ambassador to Aon Risk Solutions, and Business Adviser to Barberry Developments Limited. Digby is Senior Adviser of Babcock International Group plc and Chairman of Neutrino Concepts Limited.
He is Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars, a member of the Advisory Board of Monitise plc, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Argentex LLP, non-executive director of Cell Therapy Ltd, non-executive director of Leicester Tigers plc and chairman of ShP Limited. He advises in a number of other paid and unpaid roles, fulfilling his vision of promoting socially inclusive wealth creation. Digby travels regularly across the UK and overseas, runs his own business and his fulfilment is complete when Leicester Tigers and Aston Villa win their matches. He has many plans for the decades to come.
Lord Digby Jones is a well renowned business, after dinner and keynote speaker. Since working as the Director of CBI for over six and a half years as well as being awarded the title Minister of State for Trade during the same period, he has moved on towards many other successes. His knowledge and experience in the business world is second to none proving this through his thought-provoking speeches, focusing on leadership skills as well as being able to balancing professionalism with humour, he is truly an awesome speaker.