The Network reach is vast, there’s the work to enhance children and families lives through a global charitable foundation and direct work with the Children’s, Education and Health Sectors. The work with employers to enhance workplace culture through a focus on mental health, HR practices and human centred training.
And if that wasn’t enough the Network is investing in the local community. This year it is supporting four local charities in Birmingham – all dedicated to empowering disadvantaged young people through education, to ensure they believe in themselves, achieve their full potential, and inspire future generations.
Jim passionately believes that the key to communities thriving is to design and build more inclusive behaviours, structures and environments and this is why he invests as he does.
Seeing the impact is the fuel that feeds Jim’s fire. When asked about his day Jim says “It’s varied,” with characteristic understatement. “No two days are the same, but that excites me. The Martin James Network encompasses everything from charities to cutting-edge tech”. And those working across the Network work collaboratively, as a team, to secure this change.
Jim has always been a team builder, from his first forays into business, when he bought a couple of newspaper shops, to employing thousands of individuals around the UK and across the world, he says. “I like seeing what people bring to the table. I realised I enjoyed employing people decades ago, when I bought a couple of shops. The shops were the worst thing I ever did, but I still like employing people, I love a good team.”
The team around Jim today represents a variety of innovative, fearless companies that make up the Martin James Network. But regardless of the company function, they all have a golden thread that runs through them – the commitment to human centred practices to deliver social change, empower communities; and leave the world a better place than it was before they began.
Within the Network sits the Martin James Foundation, a global charity with more than 30 years of experience of providing children’s care services through Key Assets and FosterTalk. Jim is co-founder along with his wife Ayyab Cockburn. The pair champion the deinstitutionalisation of children and experienced teams in the UK and across the world work daily to eliminate the institutional care of children, instead providing care for them within families.
Jim comments “Kids are better in a family environment and in schools, it’s that simple. I’ve got a big vision of the way things should be and we’re intent on working towards it. The politics of charities are maddening, but the work of the Foundation is essential because it doesn’t just improve lives, it saves them.”
Jim loves creatively connecting minds, transforming lives and shaping a brighter future. And that’s where his wife and business partner, Ayyab, comes in. “Ayyab is remarkable, she’s over all the detail, she’s very, very clever and she’s highly creative. I put a human face on what the group does.”
Jim has spent a career immersed in the care sector, but he has turned his attention to investing in technology that can support the care sector further. Ayyab has helped to inspire this direction of travel as she herself is a passionate advocate of using technology to change lives.
Ayyab uses her experience in the tech sector to positively impact everyday problems. Many of the new businesses that form part of the Martin James Network aim to harness cutting edge technology, providing real-time answers to global problems. They are a talented team of digital winners whose chatbots, AI innovations and more will become increasingly popular during the inter-connected information age.
Principles and values are at the heart of the Martin James Network – it is a space for creatives and disruptors, innovators and free thinkers. It’s anti-establishment, though on the basis that being so leads to faster, better results. “I’m scared a lot of the time. I do get scared, but it’s about being frightened but doing it anyway.” It is this approach that inspires those around Jim to be fearless in their ventures to conquer new and emerging technologies. And whilst the companies do their work Jim will be at the centre of the team of rule breakers, not makers, who disrupt conventional norms.