A LONG-STANDING business partner and friend of a man whose body was found on the Sussex coast yesterday has paid tribute to "an inspirational leader".

Rob Goffee met Gareth Jones when they were both studying at the University of Kent, with the pair going on to teach, found a business and co-author four books together.

Their company, Creative Management Associates, continues to operate today, more than two decades after they started it.

But their working relationship has been cut short by the tragic events of the weekend.

"I have been inundated with messages and tributes to him from all over the world," Rob said, "and all of them were true.

"I knew him in every way you can think of. We were students together, we were friends, our families knew each other well.

"I have known and worked with him for decades, and it has been a privilege."

After meeting at the University of Kent in the 1970s, Gareth and Rob soon struck up a friendship.

"We did all the things young-ish students do," Rob said.

The Argus: Gareth JonesGareth Jones

"Had a lot of fun, drank plenty of beer and played a lot of football."

Their paths split, geographically, when Gareth was offered a job as a lecturer at the University of East Anglia - despite still only being in his mid-twenties and part-way through a PhD.

"That's an index of how well-regarded and clever he was as a student," Rob said.

Despite being in different parts of the country, he and Gareth stayed in touch and the duo were reunited at the London Business School in the mid-1980s.

"That's where our working partnership really started," Rob said.

"And it's continued to progress, uninterrupted, until now."

They both taught at the school as lecturers and professors, and Gareth's uncanny ability to captivate a crowd soon made him popular with students.

Rob said: "He was an absolutely world class communicator, he grasped whichever audience he was talking to.

"In a place like a business school you are teaching all ages from all over the world, but he had a knack of crossing those boundaries and connecting brilliantly with everyone.

"He would bring difficult subjects to life and link what he was talking about to real world examples.

The Argus: Gareth JonesGareth Jones

"We would regularly be given feedback on our classes, and he would always be the top-ranked teacher."

Rob and Gareth also began taking on consulting work and founded their company, Creative Management Associates, in the 1980s.

The business is still going strong today.

Alongside his academic achievements, Gareth also held several other esteemed roles including that of head of HR at the BBC.

It was this experience, Rob said, that gave him an authoritative voice when working as a consultant.

"It's unusual for someone to be able to cross those boundaries, but Gareth did," Rob said.

"As a consultant, he could speak as someone who had been in those senior executive roles.

"His intellect and general cleverness obviously helped, but his hands on experience really showed his capabilities."

This expertise was immortalised in four books which Rob and Gareth co-authored while running their company, with each title being published by the Harvard Business Review Press.

Their most renowned title, "Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?: What It Takes To Be An Authentic Leader", followed an essay of the same name which won the Harvard Business Review's coveted McKinsey award. 

"Leadership is about inspiration and Gareth was inspirational," Rob said.

"That's why he spoke so well on leadership - he had a very cultured mind.

"He was very well-read in literature, history and philosophy, but he balanced that with loving his football and being a great guy to be around in the pub.

"He was fantastic with new ideas and we spent many happy days together writing.

"They always ended with the ritual of a trip to the pub.

"Gareth always knew where to find a good pub and, when we went inside, they always knew him."

Rob and Gareth achieved a huge amount over the years, and they achieved it all by working as a team.

Rob said: "It was all done together.

"To be able to sustain a partnership like that, I'm very proud to say we were able to do that, and it's a lot to do with Gareth being able to make it so fun.

"A dean at the London Business School used to say we were in the business of transforming futures, and that's what Gareth did.

"He transformed the futures of so many individuals."

The Argus: The search operation in Hove on Saturday nightThe search operation in Hove on Saturday night

A huge search operation was launched on Saturday evening after Gareth was reported missing from his home in Hove.

Despite immense efforts from emergency teams throughout the weekend, the search was scaled down on Sunday afternoon after police viewed CCTV which appeared to show Gareth being swept out to sea.

Yesterday, the force confirmed a body believed to be that of the missing 69-year-old had been recovered from the water’s edge at Tide Mills, near Seaford. 

Hundreds of tributes to Gareth, a popular figure among Hove's pub and political scenes, poured in after the search was scaled back on Sunday.