World Wise Gentleman
March 2020 Issue
by Suzanne Eisinger
Photos courtesy of Jolyon Griffiths
Between conflicting schedules, a looming deadline and an ocean between us, I had almost resorted to interviewing Jolyon Griffiths via Facetime. Thankfully we found a way, meeting in person after Jolyon’s arrival from London.
It was worth the wait.
For the next hour, this quintessential British gentleman regaled me with tales of travel from Vietnam to Botswana, educated me in the time honored traditions of cricket and offered up some surprisingly sage life advice from the field of chemical engineering. All this as I watched the continually changing panorama spilling in from every window of his beloved marsh house. No, Facetime could never have done this story justice.
Jolyon Griffiths is general counsel for Calastone, a global funds technology company based in London. After graduating from Exeter in chemical engineering, Jolyon went on to train as an accountant and has held a variety of CFO and CFA positions since. To this day, he credits his success to the strong foundations in problem solving he learned from engineering. After all, he explains, the simple formula mass in = mass out can be applied to most anything, from chemical reactions to spreadsheets to a myriad of other situations.
In the summer of 2013, Jolyon met an American who changed his life. It was at an annual company party to which he’d been invited and half-heartedly agreed to attend. Arriving late, he encountered Lydia Inglett for the first time. The two instantly hit it off.
Within six weeks in a spectacular leap of faith, Jolyon and Lydia were setting up house together on Hilton Head Island. “We both realized that you can be with someone where you’re appreciated and that can lead to happiness.” The leap paid off—in March, they will have been married for six years and counting.
Lydia, owner of Lydia Inglett Publishing and Starbooks, is a native of South Carolina, who worked professionally in Washington, DC and Augusta, Ga., before moving to Hilton Head Island in 2000.
“Lydia…what’s not to love?” Jolyon says with a smile. “She is the most wonderful person. I feel very privileged and very blessed to be part of her life.”
Still, with their professional lives pulling them to opposite sides of the Atlantic, the couple has had to be creative. Approximately 10 times per year, Jolyon makes the nine-hour flight to see Lydia in Hilton Head, sharing the home they have since built together on the marsh. Lydia visits London another five or six times. About Hilton Head Jolyon has this to say, “ I was amazed. It’s a great place to live.”
And where do they stay when one or both are in London? After some Abbott and Costello-inspired banter, (‘WHERE do you live?’, to which he delightedly replies, ‘Exactly!’), I learn they live in a small town north of London named Ware. Jolyon admits he never tires of the joke.
At 58, Jolyon is an avid cricket player and doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. “I’m going to play until I’m 80,” he declares. He plays for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the world’s most renowned cricket club and guardian of the laws of cricket. In 2013, he had the great honor of managing the club’s 10-day tour in Cyprus. “It was a lot of fun,” Jolyon says with a mischievous smile. “What goes on tour stays on tour.”
Jolyon also plays rugby, racquets—the original version of squash, and real tennis, which originated in the 14th century and continues to be popular in England, including with the Royals. Jolyon played real tennis with Prince Edward in 2018.
When he’s not playing hard, Jolyon’s pursuits are decidedly more sedate—beach walks, cycling, French wine and spending time with friends over a good meal. Still, it’s the marsh that beckons to him most with its continually changing landscape and wildlife. When Jolyon’s in England, he admits to an appreciation for ‘proper ale’ and spending “more time than I probably should in my local pub” watching rugby.
Between professional travel, sports tournaments and, of course, Lydia, Jolyon has visited his fair share of countries, topping 40 at last count. Of those, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zambia are among his favorite destinations.
Jolyon possesses that rare quality among people in which nothing is beyond notice or appreciation. He exudes the same level of enthusiasm when describing a high English summer, how a tennis ball is constructed, or a delightfully nonsense-filled evening at the local pub. Jolyon knows he’s lucky guy, but it’s not just luck. As he’s learned, life is what you put into it.
In engineering terms, mass in=mass out.
Jolyon’s World Wise Wisdom:
> Always tell the truth—that way you don’t have to remember what you’ve said.
> Be yourself—you’ve got to love the person in the mirror.
> Respect the culture you’re visiting.
Don’t expect that your norm is their norm.
> Wherever you go, try and speak the local language.
> There’s a whole world out there—
get out and explore it.