James Holt (Sc. 1990-95) is the co-founder of the Holt Group, and has a passion for building and design. He tried everything at school and is still a keen sportsman, and playing cricket all summer.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I’m not sure I ever really 'grew up' and I’m still not sure what I want to be!
I had a good go at everything when I was at school, from every sport possible, to acting in the plays, CCF, and worked hard in the classroom. I never really focused on any one thing, so I had a vast range of future careers that believed I was definitely going to do or become - from being an architect to a professional rugby player (this was somewhat deluded…).
Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.
I moved to Southwest London after graduating from UCL and lived there until 5 years ago, when I moved out to a lovely village called Chiddingfold in Surrey with my family. My business is still based in London, so I commute every day. I enjoy being active: playing and coaching cricket in the summer, running and skiing in the winter, as well as acting as taxi driver for the kids to their various sporting activities.
What are your favourite memories of your time at school?
I loved every second of my time at school. I'm an extravert so I loved being around my closest mates from breakfast ‘til dinner. Memories of belting out Jerusalem at the last Chapel of the year (especially in my last year, when we were singing and all fighting back the tears) still makes the hairs rise on the back of my neck. The amazing friendships I developed and still cling very closely to. The intensity of playing rugby, cricket and hockey against rival schools, the bond formed within those teams and the fun we had along the way. Oh - and I’ll never forget the look on the Fenwick girls faces at Chapel when they discovered the underwear we had hidden in one of their hymn books…
What advice would you give to your school age self?
To focus on choosing the right A-levels that would lead into a career with professional qualifications. Although I think I was probably always destined to do something different.
What do you do as a career?
I now run a group of companies with my brother Rob (Sc. 1984-89), all of which relate to residential construction, architecture and design, property, and property development.
What does your work involve?
We undertake building projects on prime and super prime residential properties within Central London (Kensington, Belgravia, Mayfair) and Surrey. We are lucky to work in and improve some of the most expensive properties in the world for some of the highest profile clients, and that really motivates me to get out of bed every morning. Every day is different with a new set of challenges, but what we do is very exciting and the product we create is of a very high quality. We also buy land and houses ourselves which we develop and either sell them or hold onto as investments.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Without shadow of a doubt, it is dealing with clients who, at that level, can be very demanding and somewhat irrational......
What are you most proud of?
I’m hugely proud of my whole family. My dad was also an Old Brightonian, and after he passed away my mum sacrificed everything to send me and my brother to Brighton College and it’s the best thing she could have ever done for us. I’m proud Rob and I have built a successful business over the last 20+ years and we have retained a strong bond, despite all the ups and downs that go with that.
My wife and my kids are everything to me and I gain so much strength and motivation watching my daughter and son grow and develop into amazing human beings.
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
1) A drill
2) A saw
3) A box containing an infinite amount of screws
I reckon I could make a pretty special tree house!
How would you like to be remembered?
As a person with integrity who tried to do everything properly, without cutting corners, and managed to achieve things through tireless hard work and determination despite a moderate amount of talent.