Christian Norris selected as CEO of PA Consulting

04 September 2023 3 min. read
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Amid a period of uncertainty, PA Consulting has appointed its third new Chief Executive Officer since the start of 2020. Christian Norris takes on the role after the exit of Ken Toombs – who lasted less than three years in the job.

“It is a great honour to be chosen to lead PA Consulting,” Norris said of his appointment. “We are uniquely placed in the market as the only company to bring ingenuity to life, driving significant value for our clients. Guided by our commitment to innovation and creating a culture that nurtures creativity and gives back to our communities, as CEO I will lead our diverse teams of experts as we build a positive human future.” 

An economist by training, Norris joined the global management consulting firm in 2018 as a partner.

Christian Norris selected as latest CEO of PA Consulting

At PA Consulting, he has led the firm’s health and life sciences sector, and its economics and strategy offering, partnering with clients to deeply understand their organisational strategy and achieve growth and high performance. Beyond that, he has also played a key role in shaping PA’s business strategy over the last five years, which has seen the firm secure exciting client work across its geographies, and growth through acquisitions.

John Alexander, the chair of PA Consulting, added, “In Christian, we have a very strong leader. Christian is purposeful, strategic, authentic, thoughtful, and perhaps most importantly in a partnership model, collaborative. Working closely with the board, and under Christian’s leadership, we will continue to create new growth opportunities for our clients, our people, and our communities.”

New CEOs

Founded in 1943, British-origin PA now has 4,000 experts across Europe and North America. The innovation-focused consultancy works to support clients in strategy, operations, product design and engineering, digital, AI and analytics, and cybersecurity, among other areas.

In that time, PA has seen some dramatic highs and lows – narrowly avoiding a sale to retain its independence, before bringing in private equity backer Carlyle in 2015. Under the guidance of Alan Middleton, the firm brought its revenues up to £500 million. When he left after 13 years as CEO, his exit left PA at a notable crossroads.

Initially, Panos Kakoullis was announced as his successor in a year-long transition period, having previously led the global auditing wing of Deloitte, but soon after, PA announced a change of direction. With the firm confirming Kakoullis had left PA by “mutual consent”, Ken Toombs was installed as CEO in October 2020.

Jacobs split

Less than three years on, though, Toombs also stepped aside. While the reasons for Toombs' departure in May were not immediately clear, Sky News reported that the move came in the wake of Jacobs Group – the US-listed company which had taken on a controlling stake in PA – announcing plans to split itself in two. Jacobs had bought out the stake of Carlyle, in a ‘private equity-style deal’, just months after Toombs became PA’s CEO.

Regardless of that uncertainty, PA recently announced another year of strong growth for the year ending December 2022, with year-on-year increase in fee income of 14%. Looking ahead, Norris will work to look to build on that momentum, and steer PA through its current uncertainty.

Bob Pragada, PA board member, and CEO of Jacobs, said of his appointment, “I’m delighted that Christian will lead the next exciting stage of PA’s growth journey. I look forward to continuing to work together to tackle the world’s most complex and challenging agendas, create new opportunities for our teams, and leverage the significant power of our collaboration for clients and the communities we serve.”