Chief mentor - Barry Isted

I met Barry at my first Conference – early in the 80s.  At that particular hotel it was their practice to seat people at large round tables of 10 – and when I came down to breakfast the first morning the next table held just one person – Barry. 

I was a brand new associate member and had no idea how important he already was in the British Association of Industrial Editors – a former national chairman, Council member, instigator of the lecture programmes, Senate chairman, and chairman of numerous sub-committees.  But being Barry he never mentioned any of this, but took me under his wing and introduced me to has many members as possible.
By the time I was a new candidate for membership of the London & Home Counties Regional committee, he was already in his first term as Vice President of the Association.  He was always thoughtful about what was best – I well remember a London & Home Counties meeting for which I had booked a venue holding 60 people.  When we exceeded this number and more members started arriving, the management threatened to turn us all out – Barry carefully had a word with a few selected “old hands” who despite having paid to attend, retired gracefully…
But it was when I became National Chairman in 1990 that we really worked together for the first time and I came to appreciate how far-seeing his approach could be.  By then he had become the popular and respected President.  Everyone else was asking me what I planned to do during “my year” – but Barry was looking at strategy for the next five or ten years, and under his auspices the first Strategic Conference was organised.  And many of the decisions made at that meeting filtered into reality over the next few years, including ultimately changing the Association’s name.
Two years later following the departure of Cecil Pedersen, he offered me the job of Secretary General – which I declined because at the time I was happy in my full-time job.  So it was really weird to find myself accepting that role some nine years later – then he was a key figure in restoring viability when the financial hiatus of the late 1990s became apparent.  For that Tim Buckley, Helen Goodier, the late Al Smith and I in particular, and the association as a whole, owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his steadfast commitment.  I did however ignore his advice that the key to success in the top role was to fully learn the Memorandum and Articles of the Association – all 73 pages!
And through all the years of working together there were some classic moments.  I can still recall

  • the 40th anniversary Conference held in St Helier – and Barry taking on the hotel under manager who had single-handedly decided that as the dinner was over-running he would cancel the disco and lock the door to the ballroom. Barry won
  • watching Barry’s diplomacy with an incandescent conference delegate who refused to understand why – because she had forgotten to pack her dressing gown – she was not entitled to purchase a replacement from the hotel’s expensive lingerie shop and put it onto Association expenses!
  • A memorable time in Paris when Barry had been invited to speak at a FEIEA meeting without being forewarned that despite English being the FEIEA  business language, only French would be used – whereupon he and the British delegation (Bob Gooding and I) promptly walked out and staged a fringe meeting (in the nearest wine bar)
  • and another FEIEA meeting in Paris, when a larger British delegation decided to go out for dinner after the formal meeting was over.  It was a very relaxed and pleasant meal, so relaxed in fact that Barry, who had ordered the wine, miscalculated the exchange rate.  As we had spent the evening continually replenishing bottles of red wine, the fact that each cost around £50 instead of £5 was a nasty shock.  But Barry took it on the chin and took on the major part of the bill
  • and him presenting me with a cup with the inscription “Award for the worst piece of advice” – a reference to the fact I had ill-advisedly said that I thought he should give up the presidency after his second term, in case the role became stale!

The Institute would not be the success it is today without the years of service and contribution given to it by Barry Isted.

Kathie Jones
Past Cheif Executive 


  • Barry Isted – former President and Vice-President - died in 2013 after volunteering and working with the Institute for more than 30 years.
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