Derek Jones has spent 39 years in media and marketing, 33 of them in freight. His experience includes sales, sales training, sales management, publishing and senior management. He has multi-modal experience with market-leading clients across air, ocean, road and express markets. In his spare time he drives a 1926 Austin Tourer.
ACW: In terms of Pilot Marketing’s business, what are the main opportunities you see over the next five years?
Jones: Air cargo in particular, and logistics in general, is vital to world trade and will continue to grow – so our cake should get bigger. Grabbing our slice will continue to rely on winning business through referral. But that’s always been our best salesman, so we have no worries there. I think our record is a single client contact who moved through five companies and took us with him every time!
The future is also technology, but we like that nerdy stuff and make a point of keeping up with it. I can bore anybody who’ll listen with my views on where we need to go with IT, AI and robotics.
ACW: If you were a car, what model would you be?
Jones: A Land Rover Discovery. It’s what I drive anyway, and reflects what I try to be: solid, practical, understated, fairly quick and with huge capacity.
ACW: What would your autobiography be called?
Jones: Tomorrow, I’ll take a break . . .
ACW: You are on death row. What is your last meal?
Jones: I wouldn’t be on death row. I’m one of the good guys!
ACW: Would you rather know a lot about a little or a little about a lot?
Jones: Speaking from personal experience, I’d rather know a lot about a lot.
ACW: Whom would you invite to a dinner party?
Jones: Brunel for his inventiveness. Simon Weston for his bravery. Audrey Hepburn for her beauty and humanity. And Mark Whitehead (former Hactl boss), because I never had the chance to say goodbye to my friend.
ACW: Tell us the most interesting thing about you which we wouldn’t find in your CV?
Jones: I am a compulsive do-it-yourselfer. I’ve done everything except build a whole house. I also drive buses (but not for the money!!).
ACW: What do you see as the key requirements to get the most from your staff?
Jones: Never ask somebody to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself.
Look for the good qualities in people, and find ways to utilise them to mutual benefit.
Treat your staff as you would wish to be treated.
ACW: If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Jones: It has to be fillet steak, salmon and potatoes. Is it possible to have a selection of sauces, too?
ACW: If you could be anyone in history who would it be and why?
Jones: My biggest hero, Churchill. What an orator: his speeches still make the hairs on my neck stand up. He faced the impossible, and fought through to victory against all odds. What a flawed, but also intensely humane person. He proves that you don’t need to be perfect to make a real difference and help others. So there’s hope for me yet!
ACW: We finish the interview and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning £10 million. What would you do?
Jones: Find the person who dropped it, and give it back. You make your own luck: I don’t need to steal somebody else’s.
ACW: If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jones: “I’ve had the time of my life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, because I really have. And the person I’d be thinking of would be standing right next to me, just as she always is.
ACW: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Jones: Daniel Craig. I like his tough, straight-talking Bond persona, coupled with his style, pizazz and humour. Just like me!