Christopher F. Brown (M.B.A. ’02, M.S.W. ’03)
Christopher F. Brown (M.B.A. ’02, M.S.W. ’03) uses both the business and Social Work degrees he received from the University of Houston in order to run his small business providing counseling to couples. He started out in the family oil and gas business and transitioned to a career in which he helps marriages last. Brown is passionate about UH and the “Here, We Go” campaign. As a member of the Graduate College of Social Work Campaign Committee and long-time supporter of UH, Brown embodies the spirit of volunteerism that makes our institution great. Aside from work, Brown finds time to take amateur photographs and refers to himself as a “terrible, yet enthusiastic” dancer. “I wake up each day with joyful anticipation wondering how my wife, Laura, will make me laugh. So I spend time with her every chance I get,” he adds.
You have your M.B.A. from Bauer College and M.S.W. from the GCSW at UH. Those are very different degrees! How did that come about?
I began my Houston M.B.A. in the second class of the Executive M.B.A. program. Unfortunately, after a work transfer to Las Vegas, Nevada to run a radiological laboratory, I had to stop the E-M.B.A. program. However, I never gave up on completing my M.B.A.
I went back to the University of Houston full time in 2001 to pursue my Master of Social Work at the Graduate College of Social Work in order to become a clinical social worker and entrepreneur. That year I enrolled at the Bauer College too.
I completed my M.B.A. requirements in 2002 and my M.S.W. requirements in 2003.
How has your education from UH shaped your life and career?
My UH education has been vital to my success as a former CEO of my third generation family business, and now as an entrepreneur working with couples and people who want better relationships. My mom always said our company, Southern Petroleum Laboratories, Inc., (SPL) needed an attorney. It turned out that Mom was wrong: it needed a family therapist with an M.B.A. and an M.S.W. from UH!
My business education from the Bauer College of Business prepared me for negotiating and dealing with the private equity firms that became my partners and fellow investors in SPL. During my tenure, the business successfully navigated one divestiture, another consolidation, acquisitions, and separate sales involving all of or significant portions of the business. I used aspects of my M.B.A. education weekly and aspects of my M.S.W. daily as a CEO.
My education from the Graduate College of Social Work prepared me to lead a diverse group of people with openness and appreciation for the varied perspectives within the organization and our marketplace. At UH I learned to lead with a spirit of contentious capitalism. I am proud to say that our company effectively served the needs of my clients, employees, and shareholders while remaining profitable enough to ensure SPL’s organizational health.
Your current business, “Let’s Make a Marriage,” focuses on pre-marital counseling, officiating ceremonies and marriage counseling. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Teaching Social Work principles like “non-judgmental stance” and “self-determination” to couples in crisis is a challenge. When we’re defensive or ready to fight, as many couples are when they first come into therapy, it’s hard to be open and learn something new. Still, that’s the work.
There’s a saying that goes “You can either be right or be married.” It’s true. People who cling to their truth at the expense of their partner’s truth are putting their relationships at risk. The differences between us don’t make someone “right” and someone else “wrong.” They just make us different. We lose sight of that in our partnerships and sometimes in our communities.
You are a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and on the Campaign Volunteer Committee for the GCSW – what does the “Here, We Go” campaign mean to you, as an alumnus and donor?
The “Here, We Go” campaign is a rallying cry for all of our UH community to keep growing, achieving, and evolving. It’s how we stay relevant as a vital part of our city.
UH has had amazing accomplishments in the last few years. We’ve achieved Tier One status. We’ve celebrated a resurgent NCAA men’s football team in their beautiful new football stadium. We’ve attracted fine faculty including Nobel Laureates. Intellectual Property (IP) creation at UH stands with any university in the state.
All that said, we will not rest as we create the finest possible university for the city of Houston and our community at large. So, “Here, we go”!
Why have you chosen to stay involved with UH, through your giving and your volunteerism?
Houston embodies the future of America. The University of Houston embodies what will make the American future bright. Self-determination, opportunity, education, achievement, and giving back are what will make our University, our city, and our nation great. I’ve been fortunate to have both opportunity and education at the University of Houston. Now I can give back. It’s my responsibility.
What do you hope to see at UH in 2020?
Houston is an all minority city growing by the tens of thousands. We are African American, Latino and Latina, white, and Asian American. We are English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Farsi speaking people. The American population will be like ours in 15 years.
We, in Houston and at the University of Houston, can be a shining example of the best of what America should be in the 21st century. By 2020, I hope to see a true multicultural community at UH that honors the mistakes, hardships, lessons, and achievements of our past, while taking the school to new heights in innovation and increasing our contributions to our city and its people.