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26 May 2016
Ministry of Shipping

“There was no pressure and in reality no plan,” says Tim Jones of his career choices, which have taken him to the chief executive’s role at one of the largest shipbrokers, Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS).

“It was meeting ‘friends of friends’ and most specifically Basil Papachristidis, who introduced me to so many shipping figures,” says Tim, who majored in philosophy and religion but did not follow the path of his grandfather by entering the ministry. “My father was not pleased to see me entering theology school,” he admits.

Brother Rod of CSL Group describes his sibling as “incredibly outgoing”, joking that Tim “knows a little but pretends he knows a lot, and figures a way to build relationships”.

To have been a broker like Tim, “you really need that ability to bang on doors, get shot down and try 50 things before you get one”, Rod adds. “You have to be an indominatable spirit, and that kind of thing doesn’t appeal to me.”

Anyone who knows Tim will be familiar with his unorthodox appearance — a beard and no short-back-and-sides haircut. More than one person TW+ spoke to summed him up as “flamboyant”.

Educated at St Andrew’s School in Nassau, he went to prep school at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, described as one of the premier day and boarding schools in the US. After that, he studied at Williams College, a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Rod says Tim was something of a “rebel” in his younger days who even seriously considered entering the church. “Unbelievable,” jokes Rod.

But after meeting various top shipping figures, Tim realised that “spending years in research and not being able to contribute in any significant way” was not what he wanted. Instead of a more academic career after studying philosophy and religion, he chose shipping, leveraging eventually into BRS.

He had already worked as a deckhand and steward on Great Lakes freighters in the summers of 1973-75, before spending a gap year in 1976. It took him travelling by ship across the Atlantic and Pacific, around Europe by train or hitchhiking, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, to Singapore, through Asia to Japan on cheap tickets and then a slurry carrier to New Zealand, before heading home via Hawaii and California.

That gap year he met Harald Meyer of Krupp Seeschiffahrt, who suggested a training ship in Hamburg, Germany, once he had finished his studies.

“I took him up and started with Hasso Hoffman and Ulrich Bindseil 40 years ago,” recalls Tim. “We are still very close and, since Richard Neu has taken over, continue to work closely with them on Chinese ore trades.”

He has been with BRS for 36 years. It now has 20 offices in 18 countries following a period of rapid growth globally, much of it during his tenure as chief executive.

“We have all done our own thing after starting and getting our feet on the ground,” he says of the three Jones siblings all holding senior positions in shipping.

Younger brother Andrew is the exception. “He was an artist early on and as the last son had his own way. He tried a lot of things before finding his career in music, melding his love for Bahamas’ folk music and rock.” Andrew has a group, but according to Rod it is a bit like the Eagles, in that they might play together just once a year.

Tim’s son Alexander works in Singapore for Oldendorff, with which the BRS boss is said to have a close relationship going back many years. Brother Rod’s CSL International started a self-unloaders pool in 1993 with Oldendorff that has lasted more than 20 years and operates the largest such fleet in the world.

But Tim’s relationship is described as totally independent of that venture, although Rod says Oldendorff is typical of what his brother likes: innovative and creative companies.

Tim's wife, Stella Vajsova Jones, migrated to France in 1968 when the Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring. She led the design studio of Paris fashion house Jean-Louis Scherrer. When it was sold, she set up an interior design company, returning to her passion of art. She has had shows, including in Paris.

“Stella speaks nine languages and luckily travels with me most of the time,” her husband says. “It is tough on our personal life when I am away 150-plus days a year, and it is wonderful to have a partner to do interesting things with when travelling now.

"Shipping is definitely the best industry to be in if you are a man of the world. Everything influences our business, and the interaction with the trades, cultures and people makes it like none other. It is awfully personal, with everyone knowing everyone, or at least someone who knows someone.

“Networks are a huge advantage and I am sure this influenced all our kids getting into shipping. By no means was there any pressure, and the proof is that everyone in the clan loves their job and the company they work for.

“I did not, however, encourage my son to join BRS, as that would have been complicated internally and I have a strong feeling that the broking of tomorrow will not be the broking of my watch.”

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Source: Tradewinds

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