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Business expert has gone from Beijing to Banbury
An ability to see both sides of a problem clearly is one of the most valuable qualities for a businessman, Jonathan Reuvid believes.
It has worked well in a career that includes work for French oil giant Total, investment banking, general management of a Fortune 500 multinational and joint venture developments in China.
Now 77, he took over as chairman of Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC) a year ago and shows no signs of slowing down.
He said: “I have never been scared of decisions.
“You have to be totally truthful in your opinions, because if you are not, it always catches up with you.”
Cassington-based ORCC champions the county’s rural economy, from the village shop to large firms with export activities.
When not taken up with this, he oversees conferences at the London Stock Exchange and writes or edits business manuals.
As a boy, he boarded at Harrow and spent three years at Brasenose before graduating in philosophy, politics and economics.
On joining Total as UK chief economist, he was sent to Paris to train with other junior managers at the oil company’s splendid 17th-century head offices.
“The daunting thing was that none of it was in English from day one, with all the lectures in French,” he said.
“But the management were either ex-army colonels or ex-colonial Frenchmen who’d been in Nigeria or Vietnam, so had great stories to tell.”
Back in London and a partner in a market research agency, his clients included Clarks, Rowntree and Cadbury. He specialised in mergers and acquisitions.
After being head-hunted by New York Stock Exchange-quoted Barnes Group to head sales and marketing in Europe, he was later promoted to director of operations.
He relocated to China in the 1980s, setting up a management services company and various joint ventures.
At that time, the business climate was dogged by bureaucratic problems, involving delicate and at times exasperating negations with the authorities.
“We got into conflict many times with the Chinese government, who expected you to just give up,” he said.
“My clients fled after Tiananmen Square but my wife and I stayed for a couple of weeks, before being escorted out in a friendly way.”
He returned in1991, which was when he started writing about business opportunities there.
‘Doing Business With China’ is still one of his biggest-selling books.
Home is in Wroxton, near Banbury, with his wife of 39 years, scientist Anne Reuvid and their black labrador.
He plans to continue to build his conference company IPR, before selling it at some point.
Using his contacts, he arranges guest speakers and has his eye on Chancellor George Osborne. “I love change, I like things that grow, rather than static situations,” he said.
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