Philip Reed attended the public schools of Milwaukee and in 1917 entered the University of Wisconsin, but quit in his freshman year to join the Army. An appendix operation kept him out of the American Expeditionary Forces; when the Armistice came he was at Fort Monroe, training for the heavy artillery.
Reed returned to Wisconsin to complete his degree in electrical engineering. GE, then scouting for engineering talent, offered Reed a job at $115 a month, but he refused it. Instead, he took a $2,000-a-year job with a firm of patent lawyers in New York. By studying nights at Fordham, he got his law degree in 1924, and in due course was admitted to the New York Bar.
In 1926, went to work for Judge C. W. Appleton in GE's law department in New York where he had frequent contact with Swope and Young, who gave him an assortment of special assignments.
Reed was transferred to the Incandescent Lamp Department in 1927 and became its general counsel in 1934. Because he was an effective speaker, he was invited by plant managers to talk on labor relations, company policies and pension plans. In December 1937, he was appointed assistant to the President and two years later was elected chairman of the board.
In February 1941, Mr. Reed began his government war-time service, becoming senior consultant to the Priorities Division of the Office of Production Management, which later became the War Production Board. He was subsequently named chief of the bureau of Industries, War Production Board, and in July 1942, went to London as deputy to W. Averill Harriman who headed a lend lease mission to England. In 1943, the President created the United States Mission for Economic Affairs in London and appointed Reed its chief, with the rank of minister. He returned to private life on January 1,1945.
A month later, Reed, who had resigned all his posts with General Electric when he went abroad, was again elected a director and chairman of the board. In addition, he was elected chairman of the board of the International General Electric Company.
Reed continued to take part in public affairs. In 1945, he was consultant to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization. From February 1945 to July 1947, he was chairman of the U.S. Associates of the International Chamber of Commerce, which submitted the Montreux Plan for Economic stability to the State Department.