Industry pays tribute to ‘kind and genuine’ John Wright

John Wright (3)Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to Blue Sheep co-founder John Wright, who passed away last week after contracting Covid while being treated in Cheltenham General Hospital for a heart issue.

John grew up in Pinner, London, and often boasted that he sat next to Elton John – or Reg Dwight as he was then known – at school, although being a classmate of the budding musical genius did have its downside. This huge distraction meant he left school with just one O-level; Reg on the other hand secured five, including music.

But while Elton left to attend the Royal College of Music, John went into sales and cut his teeth at ICI, selling paint. In 1978, he swapped the paint for data, joining Leamington Spa-based Market Location as a sales executive.

During his 15 years with the business, John worked with the energy companies during the deregulation of the market, helping them to understand the need for quality customer data. He was also heavily involved in the sale of the firm to the Dudley Jenkins Group.

In 1993, he joined forces with Iain Lovatt in co-founding Business Market Analysis, which morphed into Blue Sheep in 1999. John was involved in all day to day aspects of running the business, primarily in the sales and marketing space, until he stepped down in 2010.

However, in 2013 he rejoined Lovatt, to work as a consultant at BlueVenn, the customer data platform and marketing automation solution.

Lovatt said: “John has been in my life for 34 years, since we first met back in 1986 as I was starting out in business for myself and well before we became business partners.

“He might have left school with just one O-level, but he held his own with some of the finest minds in the data industry when discussing data analytics and segmentation.

“John was kind-hearted, generous and astute, he knew when to give and take with clients, when to walk out of pitches as clients were asking for the impossible and willing to pay as little as they could. He knew how to impart his knowledge onto others, especially young people who wanted to learn about data. He was true mentor to many of the younger members of the team at Blue Sheep, who joined us at an exciting time for data and analytics.

Lovatt explained that John “was the logic behind the emotion, he was the calm behind the storm, and he was an anchor in the changing world of business data”.

He added: “Together we forged a unique partnership that saw us have some of our best and most lucrative ideas in front of clients as we heatedly discussed the various possible solutions to their needs.”

118 Information commercial director Sharron Atkins, a client of John’s, said: “I perhaps knew John for the shortest of time, compared to most, but he left a lasting impression. Supportive and kind, he was a pleasure to work with, having such a wealth of knowledge and ideas that he was always willing to share.

“Many a visit began with tea, biscuits and a gossip; I remember one two-hour review meeting concluded with no business having been discussed, but I knew a lot more about Japan, and he about Jamaica, and we had once again put the world to rights. We bade farewell as always with a hug, and I looked forward to seeing him next time, like I would an old friend. Thank you, John, you made a difference.”

Market Notions director Jan Blann first met John at Market Location and said that everyone who knew him loved him. She added: “He was a genuine, charming, witty and intelligent man passionate about people, his career and making a difference. His larger-than-life character and cheeky charisma always made you smile and lit up the room.

“John was gregarious, generous, interested and interesting and always lots of fun. And, as a life-long fan of Shakespeare, I know this extract from Hamlet, as well as being fitting, would also make him smile: ‘Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’ (5.2. 397-98).

“As a work colleague and friend, I have a lot to thank John for and will miss him dearly.”

Consultant Tony Lamb worked with John for many years as a supplier, business partner and client, “as well as sharing many a beer and glass/bottle of wine with him”.

He said: “In the data industry of old, there were always many events when people used to catch-up, which felt often more like a school reunion, meeting old friends, than work. John was always one of the people you made sure you spoke to, as you knew his enthusiasm for life and sense of fun would put a smile on your face. He’ll be fondly remembered.”

Former LBM and Cyance chief Mike Housley, who is now a non-exec at Serendipity2, added:  “John was one of the original founders of the B2B data driven marketing industry and a leading innovator in data analytics, insight & strategy. He was one of those rare charismatic individuals who naturally attract other people. Always full of good humour, he was calm, friendly and supportive to all. A top man and a true professional. He will be sadly missed.”

John is survived by his wife Karen, her two children Amber and Sam, as well as John’s two children from his first marriage, Tim and Jenny.

Related stories
2019 Review of the Year: In tribute to industry pioneers
DM industry chiefs pay tribute to Lester Wunderman
Industry chiefs lead the tributes to Rosemary Smith
Industry award launched to honour Rosemary Smith 
Industry chiefs pay tribute to ‘inspirational’ Rick Pullan
Industry tributes pour in for ‘vibrant’ Jo Howard-Brown
Industry tributes flood in for ‘inspirational’ Lloyd James

Print Friendly