JAY GRAM — Producer
We live in a Must-Find-Out universe. Who was that attractive person we met in the pub last night? Who’s the guy who gave you his card at the product launch? Are the fast-talking venture capitalists at the Festival of Speed all they seem to be? Will they help or hinder our growth? Can they be trusted with our cash? Will they break our hearts? We must find out, and soon.
Half a century ago, you could try looking them up in Who’s Who? More recently you could Google them and hope they have a Wikipedia entry. Now, the profiles published on thisisabout.com will get you the information you need. And in charge of operations is the omnicompetent producer, Jay Gram.
“People of my generation know that you go online to find out about someone you’ve heard of, you’re meeting or have just met,” says Jay. “Older generations are starting to realise that it’s in everyone’s interest to have content of real value appear in such a search, so you immediately know who you are dealing with.”
Jay comes from Naestved, Denmark (“a great place to grow up — everyone knows you and you can cycle everywhere”) where his father was an IT whizz at the Kampsax engineering firm, specialising in geographic information systems. When not playing piano in the school band (“We played ‘Billie Jean’, ‘California Dreaming’ — anything that would make the girls dance,”) Jay learned computer skills from his dad: “I loved being around the machinery at his workplace,” he says, “and seeing the big servers in company basements. I loved all the printing and scanning equipment.” At 11, for his Christmas present, he asked his startled parents for a Hewlett Packard printer.
You need to understand people. How they view themselves, are currently viewed by others and would benefit from being viewed differently by presenting a more truthful image of who they are.
From an early age, Jay was determined to travel. At 17, he was in Paris, studying for a Baccalaureate at the International School. At 19 he was in London, reading financial economics at university. At 22, back in Paris, he joined a small fashion house specialising in couture. Jay helped build the brand, finding points of sale in London and Paris, pitching to buyers from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. “Being the production guy meant doing everything,” he says. “Organising fashion shows, ordering the chairs, getting the lights and fittings right, building the stage, fixing the backdrop — all for a 10-minute presentation.” After another spell of travel, this time in Milan, studying finance during the worst recession in 50 years, he settled in London’s achingly trendy Hackney-Shoreditch arrondissement and joined thisisabout.com.
Jay has had another string to his bow since he was 16: modelling. A six-feet-four-inch Adonis with piercing eyes, wild curls and cheekbones that could open an oyster (“I’ve been taken for Eva Herzigova’s younger brother,” he modestly admits) he was talent-spotted in Copenhagen and later joined the Models 1 agency. He is no stranger to casting sessions, celebrity photographers (his favourite shoot was with Ellen Von Unwerth), the scrutiny of clothing designers, the pages of fashion magazines (like Vogue, GQ, Man About Town), the nightclubs of Chelsea and the swooning of women, but modelling has always been a sideline: his passion for technology and organisation is what drives him.
Being Head of Production synthesises his main skills: his ability to communicate in four languages and familiarity with five cultures; his analytical, techno-mathematical smarts; and his hands-on, creative flair.
Commissioning the right photographer, director or designer to work with each client is a sensitive part of his job. “You need to understand people.” says Jay, “How they view themselves, are currently viewed by others and would benefit from being viewed differently by presenting a more truthful image of who they are.” It’s the role of Jay Gram — cool, reassuring, tactful and with a gift for empathy well beyond his years — to make that journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Jay was interviewed by John Walsh for thisisabout.com