Chris Houston is a seasoned consultant who helps his clients bring about fundamental change in the organizations they lead. His experience spans 30+ years as a consultant, coach, mentor and facilitator of senior leaders across North America and Western Europe and Asia.
Chris is a ‘natural’ consultant, and to him, the work is a calling, a craft and a passion. He brings a creative mind, demand for results and a caring heart to his clients and the issues of business strategy, leadership development, organization design and change management. Chris serves by challenging and strengthening to build “hopeful realists” – and loves the intricate and often intensely personal process of helping leaders and their organizations grow and thrive, even in extremely challenging conditions. Many of his consulting relationships last for years, transitioning through the natural stages of growth as needs and conditions change. For many clients, the benefits of an experienced ‘third party’, who remains close enough for relevance yet removed enough for objectivity, has proven to provide a valuable resource to help through challenging times and achieve positive results.
Chris graduated first with a B.Sc (hons)., and then an MSc., from the University of British Columbia, specializing in fish physiology and fisheries management. After a successful ten years as a field biologist and manager, he took his MBA (Gold Medallist) at the Ivey Business School in London, Ontario in 1987.
In 1987 Chris joined the General Management practice in the Toronto office of Woods Gordon, the Canadian consulting affiliate of what was then Arthur Young International and is now, EY. As a principal, Chris led and participated in variety of strategic planning and organizational change assignments for a number of large clients in retailing, natural resources, health care, and research and development.
In 1990, Chris joined Change Lab International where he was a director in the Toronto practice for four years. In 1994, he and colleague Morrey Ewing formed The Change Alliance, in Toronto, and since then, he has worked primarily as a ‘sole practitioner’, often partnering with colleagues ‘inside’ his client organizations.
Chris brings a unique combination of intellect and character to coaching leaders and their teams as they define and execute strategy, create and lead successful organizations, often navigating very turbulent conditions. Through years of experience as a consultant, coach, mentor and facilitator of senior leaders across North America and Western Europe and Asia, Chris has successfully built many strong and lasting client relationships with senior executives in companies such as LoyaltyOne, BMO Financial Services, Risk Management Solutions, LG, Eastman Kodak, Guy Carpenter, Flextronics, Marsh Inc. & Marsh Canada, Ogilvy, WPP, Pon North America, WebMD, the Coca-Cola Company, and what was Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceuticals. In addition, he has worked with McCain Foods, KPMG, Eatons, Stikeman Elliott, ScotiaBank, AOL Time Warner, the Canadian Banking Institute, Levi Strauss & Co., Allstate Insurance, Reuters, the Auditor General of Canada, Dupont Canada and the G. Heileman Brewing Company as well as others. Some assignments in the not-for-profit sector have included the Stratford Festival, Canadian Automobile Club, Kitchener/Waterloo Symphony, The Institute for Corporate Directors, Upper Canada College, Inter-Varsity and Goodwill Industries. He has also taught strategy and change management in the senior management programs of the Institute for Chartered Accountants of Ontario.
In addition to his consulting practice, Chris has been a director of Jefferson Partners, a Toronto-based venture firm specializing in ‘new-economy’ technology companies and chaired the Board of a software company in addition to serving as a director of another hi-tech public company for three years through and after its IPO process. More recently, Chris has become active in the Elora-Fergus area, not far from their home in Ontario, where he has served on the board of directors of the Elora Festival and is active at St. John’s Anglican church.