The Backline Story

Hi - my name is Simon Houghton, and I help clients develop high performing teams, creating environments that set their staff free to do their best work, every day.

Growing up, I was sports-mad. My main sports were judo, rugby, golf and squash, and for the latter, I represented at county and university level, however an injury stopped me from reaching greater heights. I left university and worked as a management consultant for a Big4 Consultancy (Coopers & Lybrand which became PwC), and worked across a number of large-scale business transformation and organisational change programmes. It was great fun, but long hours! So I knew I needed something outside of work to keep me sane....and I found a part-time course on hypnotherapy.

I loved the course, but as a 22 year old, most of my clients were considerably older than me, with problems I could have no hope in appreciating. Except for one client. His name was Matt.

The thing about Matt was that he had been selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, and wanted help to improve his performance. No baggage, no family stuff, no relationship breakdowns, and the same age as me. He just wanted to improve his performance on the big stage. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, and it made me want to explore sport psychology (rather than to simply be 'the hypnotist').

I decided to study for a Sport Psychology masters degree, and since then, I have worked as a sport psychologist for a range of sports, including tennis, golf, rowing, triathlons and, most notably, rugby. I had the best time of my life working for an ambitious rugby team in Aberdeen for several years whilst also a management consultant. 

Whilst in Aberdeen, I was a transformation and change consultant, but a new role saw me work in a specialised area of the Oil & Gas industry, in 'digital oilfields' (also known as 'integrated operations'). I was the people, culture and organisational specialist, in amongst the techies and oil process experts. Essentially I helped operation teams to create new ways of working across multiple locations (sometimes extremely geographically dispersed)...for example, in the Australian Outback, in the far north of Canada, offshore South East Asia and the North Sea, and the Middle Eastern desert. 

I helped teams across the globe in multiple different cultures to break down barriers, collaborate effectively, and to improve production, reduce costs and to develop a continuous improvement mindset. A large part of my toolkit comes from my background in sport psychology and elite team sports performance - drawing on leadership, continuous improvement, and problem solving under pressure. I coach leaders and teams to be their very best, and in the process, deliver extraordinary business performance. 

Why is the business called 'Backline Consulting'? In rugby, the 'backline' is the defensive line - it is the foundation of the team. They need to be a cohesive unit, be ready to adapt and success comes from clear communication and effective collaboration. Within a moment's notice, the team need to be able to switch from defence to attack, and vice versa, and only the best, well-connected teams succeed in doing this effectively. I help teams to be responsive, cohesive and collaborative.

Every business needs to have a strong, cohesive ‘backline’...each team plays an important part within the business, and I help teams to be responsive, cohesive and collaborative, and being the best they can be results in greater business performance.

I am now working more with technology and innovation-focused SMEs to develop high performing teams, cultures and organisations, in order to improve business performance. They include clients that work in industries as diverse as biotechnology, fintech and a fast growth engineering consultancy.  

I live in Hampshire with my wife and two daughters.

Example Engagements...

With this Social Care Enterprise client, we reduced the complexity of their operations substantially One process went from 15 man-days to 2 man-days...

With this Recruitment Consultancy client, we helped them improve all areas of their customer-facing processes...  

With this Oil & Gas client, we helped them to improve operational efficiency and to reduce costs...  

86% improvement in critical business process  

On track to improve profitability by 25%  

Delivered in excess of $1M benefit within 6 months


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