James is part of our Old Brightonians network over in Hong Kong, and has attended several drinks and dinner events over the years. Plans are already underway for the next College dinner next December, and drinks are also planned for the summer (watch this space). We thought it was high-time we caught up with James to see what he had been up to since leaving the College, and how he ended up over in Hong Kong.
1. When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I was at Brighton from 1988-1993 in Chichester house, which sadly wasn’t a girls boarding house in those days, otherwise College life could have proved very different. My interests during my tenure at Brighton mainly lay outside of the classroom playing Rugby for the 1st XV in the winter and in the summer representing the school in other sports that relied solely on brute strength- Swimming and Water-polo. I had grown up seeing my Father forge a successful career equipped largely with a huge amount of determination and an appetite for hard work so having inherited these traits I knew I wanted to do something well but had no idea what. Please don’t take the first sentence of this paragraph as any indication of how life turned out.
2. What are you now you've grown up?
I’d certainly like to think that I am still growing up and that I have many years ahead of me of living a charmed life. I am lucky enough to live in Hong Kong, own and operate my own business that holds the global licensing rights for Adidas and Reebok fitness and training accessories. Some would call me an entrepreneur, but probably not Sir Richard Branson.
3. What is your best memory of school?
Many that spring to mind I have self-edited. Those that are fit for consumption that really stand out include: being made Captain of the 3rd XV, it was a surprise an honour, I wasn’t a model pupil, thank you Mr Archer for believing in me; being part of a very successful 1st XV and all that entailed; winning the bath swimming cup; English lessons with Mr Robinson; and attending audience with Mr Leach (Headmaster) and Mr Whitestone (Housemaster) on several different charges but always negotiating a fair settlement.
4. What was the best piece of advice you were given
Live each day like it was your last. The harder you work the luckier you get.
5. What do you do /did you do as a career
I left Brighton in 1993, going on to study at Leeds University and from there cut my teeth in the world of sports and fashion apparel working for several global brands including Speedo, Nautica, Aquascutum, Canterbury and Ben Sherman. I have spent roughly an equal number of years of my career living in London and Hong Kong. I set up RFE Asia Pacific with a partner in 2008 and we now distribute to 50 markets across the world employing around 100 people and operating offices in most major markets.
6. What does your job involve?
RFE are Licensees for the Adidas and Reebok brands so we effectively licensee product categories that are outside of the brands core competencies and design, develop, source, market and distribute products in those categories. Effectively RFE has all the same functions as the brands themselves but operate solely in the categories we license instead of being brand owners. Our business model is about being the most globally recognised brands in sectors where few brands exist.
7. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Managing cash-flow people and time.
8. What have you done that you are most proud of
I am certainly most proud of creating two fantastic children Dylan and Vieve, with a very patient, understanding and loving wife, Sarah.
Outside of that to be a little more indulgent: I have run a few ultra-marathons in some challenging terrain (Nepal, Yunan & HKG): performed citizen’s arrests on robbers, being recognised by the HKSAR in full brass band ceremonies: and finally run a successful business that gives me a fantastic work/ life balance affording me the opportunity to explore the world.
9. What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
For my children to attend Brighton College, but without Common Entrance. I did ask Mr Cairns about the pass mark when he was last in Hong Kong…
10. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
Runway, Private plane, Jet Fuel (Bear Grylls- Just in case)
11. How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who tried their best and enjoyed life along the way.