Sir Charlie Mayfield of John Lewis Partnership talks to students about his education, Army career and views for a healthier economy

24 October 2014

Sir Charlie Mayfield speaking to students at JFS in KingsburySir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership since 2007, spoke to nearly 200 upper sixth form students at JFS in Kingsbury, North West London, about the path that had taken him to where he is today.

Sir Charlie Mayfield speaking to students at JFS in KingsburyHe told the students that he decided not to attend university, despite getting the requisite grades, and instead chose to enroll at Sandhurst for Officer Training. This lead to him being stationed in Northern Ireland where he says he learnt a valuable lesson in working with others, and that just because someone is your subordinate on paper doesn’t mean they aren’t someone you can learn from and rely on.

After telling the students about the training and education programs he went through he talked about how each job he moved to had taught him valuable lessons, and how to take constructive criticism and apply it to improving his own practices.

Sir Charlie Mayfield speaking to students at JFS in KingsburyHe went on to field questions from the cohort about the John Lewis partnership style business model, which we said he felt was part of a broader picture about creating a plurality of business types as a means to creating greater economic prosperity and stability. He felt this could and should include family owned businesses, partnerships, and the more typically thought of businesses that are the norm in this country.

Sir Charlie Mayfield talking to students at JFS in KingsburyHe ended his talk by saying he wanted to change the current view of a successful business by calling for an alternate perspective, saying “ownership has come to mean the right to sell something, not the responsibility to nurture it” – a sentiment that was very warmly received by the room.