Obituary: John Marsh - People - News - The Independent

Obituary: John Marsh

Henry John Marsh, management consultant, writer and teacher, born 17 August 1913, Austin Motor Company 1932-39, Personnel Officer BOAC 1946-47, Director of Personnel Advisory Services Institute of Personnel Management 1947-49, Director Industrial Welfare Society 1950-61, Chairman Voluntary Service Overseas 1957-60, British National Conference on Social Work 1957-60, Director and Director General British Institute of Management 1961-73, Assistant Chairman and Counsellor 1973-75, CBE 1967, books include Introduction to Human Relations at Work 1952, People at Work 1957, Pursuit of God 1968, Ethics in Business 1970, Organisations of the Future 1980, Late Glimpses (verse) 1984, Management of Change 1989, married 1950 Mary Costerton (two sons, two daughters), died 19 August 1992.

THE death of John Marsh just months short of his 80th birthday has removed from Britain's managerial scene one of its more colourful and pioneering characters.

During the middle years of his life he was accustomed to portraying himself as an iconoclast, but that attribution would have belied his fundamental geniality of humour and his warm personal charm. Those personal attributes were as much a mainspring of his long-running success in an institutional career as was any amount of professional expertise.

He began life in the Far East - his family had trading interests in China and Singapore - but he chose Britain for his working life as an engineering apprentice with the Austin Motor Company. Already his personal skills were manifest, gaining for him promotion to apprentice superintendent at a very early age.

The outbreak of war took Marsh into uniform and he suffered the traumatic distress of the Dunkirk evacuation; a couple of years later that trauma and distress were repeated in much worsened form as a prisoner in Japanese hands afer the fall of Singapore.

Some of the best of Marsh's personal qualities were brought to the fore in the harrowing setting of the Burma railway project, but his concern for others contributed to bringing him through that ordeal both physically and mentally unscathed.

The highlight of his post-war life undoubtedly came in 1950 when he was invited to succeed The Rev Robert Hyde as Director of the Industrial Welfare Society, the significance of that invitation readily appreciated by those knowing the relevant contemporary situation. His 10-year tenure took the society into broader fields of interest and service as well into a wide-ranging international scope. The highlight was Marsh's role in organising and conducting the Duke of Edinburgh's first Commonwealth conference on human relations in industry held at Oxford in 1956. The public acclaim that he gained led to his being head-hunted for the appointment as Director of the British Institute of Management in 1961.

That institute's success during the ensuing decade owed as much to the contemporary circumstances and influences as the input of any particular persons, but to Marsh must go the credit for the international dimension that the institute gained, especially among the numerous Commonwealth countries where he inaugurated or assisted sibling professional institutes.

Marsh was also as much occupied in journeyings abroad for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and for the Overseas Development Administration in the promotion of managerial expertise as he was with the progress of the institute at home.

Those of us who grew increasingly fond of him over the years, will greatly miss his personal warmth and good humour. Humour at times took odd twists; for many years in younger life John and his identical twin brother drew recurrent fun from confusion of identities, because circumstances enabled them both never to reveal the fact of that sibling pairing.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week