James Parker
Wed, May 18, 2011 at 12:00
Stephanie Hunt in Coffs, Coffs Harbour, Interesting, James Parker, Jetty Research, Michael Close, People, Phil Greed

James Parker is the most interesting person Michael Close knows on the Coast.  “James is a fantastic person,” Michael explained.  “He is heavily involved in the business community and is always willing to help people out, supporting many community groups.”  With that description I expected to find a do-gooder, but when I showed up at James Parker’s office I found an adventurous taker of risks.  The thing that really struck me with James was my instant recognition of his personality type (the same as mine by the way).  You may not find this interesting, but I sure did!

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The founder of Jetty Research is definitely a Seven

If you have ever studied the enneagram you will know that it divides the world into nine personality types.  It’s often hard to figure out what “type” someone is, but every once in awhile someone comes along and you immediately recognise their number.  This is the case with James Parker.  It takes less than half an hour to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is type seven.

For the uninitiated, type seven is described by the Enneagram Institute as: The Busy Variety Seeking Type: adventurous, scattered, and extroverted.  The fit with James is uncanny.  

Busy: This one is obvious before even arriving at Jetty Research, the Coffs Harbour based research company which James Parker founded 4 years ago.  The interview has already been cancelled twice due to the hectic nature of work and client demands.  Walking into Jetty Research’s Industrial Drive office the call centre is buzzing and James is hard at it, discussing an important project with a colleague.  This place is humming, not what you’d expect from a small regional business.

Variety Seeking: This pretty much sums up James’s career.  He’s reinvented himself three times, taken big career risks and endured substantial pay cuts to find jobs that kept him interested.

You wouldn’t know it from the way that James confidently talks about customer research methodologies and outcomes, but market research is his third (and he says last) career path.  His first profession was business and finance.  James got involved with AIESEC, a global youth organisation offering international internships and leadership training to young people, while studying economics at Sydney Uni.  At 23 he moved to AIESEC’s head office in Brussels to become Director Asia Pacific and then went on to set up AIESEC in Nairobi and to internships in Canada and the Philippines.  Sounds incredibly impressive, right up to the point where James explains that the AIESEC conferences were really just an excuse for a multi-cultural party.  After 3 years of travelling, working and partying James came back to Australia and joined a stockbrokerage firm as a client adviser.  “I love shares, stocks, finance and all that kind of stuff, so it suited me fine.”

After two years of stockbroking, James started up a company newsletter – unwittingly he had found career #2.  “I realised I enjoyed writing more than I enjoyed trading stocks,” James explains.  “So I left stock broking to become a finance journalist.”  He said goodbye to his $150,000 a year job, to work with ACP’s Australian Business magazine on $28,000.  But it was worth it.  Not only did he love his job, but James explains “journalists give much better parties than stockbrokers.”

The journalism career really looked like it was going to stick.  James stayed at Australian Business for over 3 years, and then became publisher for a number of trade magazines, before fast talking his way into a job at Murdoch Magazines launching Men’s Health in Australia.  James found this job exhilarating, and not only for the work.  “The Men’s Health launch party was considered one of the great parties of the year,” James says.  He stayed at Murdoch until the company was close to the end and seeing the writing on the wall he moved to become Managing Director at the TNT Backpacker magazines.  Again James had fun running these youthful publications, but an ownership change made things less about fun and more about benchmarks and he walked again.  This time he walked right out of town, landing a job as GM of The Coffs Harbour Advocate.

James refuses to comment on the Advocate’s role in this decision, but 2 years later his journalism career came to an end, and James launched Jetty Research. “I’d always had an interest in research and discovered that there were few regional suppliers.”  Seeing an opportunity, James did a post graduate certificate in Applied Statistics at Swinburne while still working at the Advocate, and in September 2006 he made the leap: once again leaving a good position, established career and big salary in search of the next challenge.

Adventurous: His career’s been an adventure in itself, but James shows signs of seeking a more intense and dangerous kind of adventure.  When talking about his internship days with Citibank in the Philippines, James becomes animated about the People Power Revolution that eventually ousted Marcos.  When asked why he considers being in Manilla while the tanks roll down the streets “a great experience” James gives some insight into his adventurous soul.  “I always had a kind of twisted dream to be caught in the middle of a coup.  So that was my coup I suppose.”

Scattered: One can blame a scattered mind for the fact that it takes 45 minutes into a one hour interview for James to mention that he has a wife and two children.  He clearly adores all three but simply forgot about them in the excitement of retelling his career exploits.  James met his wife xxxx at a Bastille Day party in Sydney.  “She’s English, comes from the country and dreams of going back to the country.”  So she played a big role in the decision to make the sea change to Coffs. 

Extroverted: Have you noticed how often parties come up with James?  Gregarious, comfortable in his own skin, talks non-stop:  James is the very definition of extroverted.

This probably explains his one big regret in life.  Way back when he was working at Australian Business magazine, he was offered a full time job as the financial reporter at 2UE.  He chose to take a management position instead, but looking back he wonders where a job as a media personality might have led.  “I could have been Kochie,” he exclaims.

It’s not hard to see James Parker hosting Sunrise, but he says he’s happy with where he ended up.  And since James is type seven he isn’t likely to “end up” anywhere.  He will keep moving, filling his life with new experiences and great parties.

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After a lot of thought, and weighing up a number of possibilities James nominated Phil Greed as the most interesting person he knows on the Coffs Coast.  “My mate Phil has very interesting philosophies on life.  He’s a tutor at TAFE and a sculptor, he built a house out of mud bricks, he has a diverse range of interests:  he’s just a brilliant guy.”  Sounds interesting!

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By Stephanie Hunt                                                    www.themostinterestingpersoniknow.net

 

Article originally appeared on The Most Interesting Person I Know (http://themostinterestingpersoniknow.net/).
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