CHRIS FOSTER: Publicis Groupe
After becoming best friends in high school and before becoming college roommates, Chris Foster started his College Pro story painting for none other than College Pro CEO, Tony Valle. He later proved himself a successful franchisee, and has gone on to great business leadership positions since.
Education: Western University
Rookie Year: 1986 (turf: Etobicoke, ON)
Current Home: New York, NY
College Pro Journey
Chris started his College Pro career painting for a guy you may have heard of – our CEO Tony Valle. “I really wasn’t much of a painter, but I did a lot better as a manager…I guess that’s become a metaphor for my life since then”. Tony helped Chris move through the interview process so that he could become a franchise manager for the following year, and Chris thought it would be a great experience. He stayed on as franchisee for 2 years, “I enjoyed the challenge of it. Looking back on my time it’s such a real and tangible business experience. You have to hire your people, you have to train them, you have to find the work, you have to meet payroll, and all of this you do by the seat of your pants. It’s a great grounding in the entrepreneurial nature of what business requires.” Chris went on to share how his College Pro education provided him with the basics of business; the self-reliance and motivation needed to work with people and get sh*t done. In his second year, Chris did extremely well operationally and financially. “Overall I cannot say enough about the experience. Whenever someone asks me about College Pro I tell them it’s where I got the bug for business”.
Chris has had a fantastic international career in business. Some of the highlights include running the US based advertising agency, Fallon, where he oversaw the advertising for clients such as Cadillac and General Mills. As for a more recent highlight, he took on the role of Chairman and CEO for Saatchi & Saatchi for Asia Pacific, where he was based in Singapore. He later went on to become COO worldwide for the company, remaining in Singapore. These days, Chris is the Senior Vice President for Publicis, a French multinational advertising and public relations company, overseeing group clients across agencies, and is based out of New York. Honestly, this barely covers his accomplishments.
“I think one of the biggest things College Pro taught me was customer management; really putting the customer first. No request is too great, no complaint is too small. It’s not about getting paid, it’s about customer satisfaction, and hopefully some word-of-mouth advertising, which is the most powerful sales tool anyone has.” Chris also told us that tenacity is a skill College Pro develops, that everyone can use for the rest of their lives. “Getting up every morning for the paint store, beating your painters to the job site, making sure operations were set up, and then going out to drive business means you need motivation and tenacity to succeed. That’s where I first realized it’s true – what you get out is what you put in”.
Favourite College Pro Memory
“My favourite memory from College Pro would have to be hiring, and then firing, Craig Bromley (remember him?) as a painter. It was a difficult decision at the time, but it was in both of our best interests – he went on to be an incredibly successful manager, and I got to hire a painter who knew how to paint.”
His family is still based in Singapore, until the end of the school year, so he flies back to see them as often as he can
Chris and his family have a cottage in Muskoka, and love to spend time on the Lake
Check out chris-foster.com to see more!