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Bill Kistler


As a teenager…

I was 13 when we moved from sunny California to frozen Montreal Canada. Climate wasn’t the only shock, they spoke another language, school was harder, kids seemed smarter and tougher and oh, Canada is a different country where to my surprise they weren’t too wild about their neighbors to the South.

Even more exciting, Montreal is in the province of Quebec which wanted out of Canada. Our English-speaking high school had armed guards. Gave me an enduring interest in politics and culture. Good news, I had some great teachers, learned to ski, skate and shovel snow. Most of all, Montreal is a great city, hosted a World Expo and the Olympics while I was there, all of which sparked a deep interest in architecture.

Moved back to California in time to go to university in Los Angeles to study, of course, architecture. Much harder than I thought it would be with lots of technical brain strain beyond the design fun. Managed to scrape through only to find when I graduated that there were no jobs for wannabe architects, so…..

After school…

…Got a job at IBM as an “in-house” architect at their giant computer memory plant in Silicon Valley. Not so glamorous designing wastewater holding tanks! Was saved by a transfer to headquarters in New York where I got to be the “client” across the table from architects I’d studied in school. Had the great good fortune to then be sent to Paris to do the same thing across Europe for 4 years!

Returning to the US was hard, both it and I had changed. Left IBM and to take on a couple of consulting and development roles. When Disney came along with a job leading part of the new city project they were building at EuroDisney back in Paris I jumped at the chance. While there I helped set up and chaired the board of an International School.

After Disney I set up a consulting company in Paris and London helping businesses and governments with development strategy. Worked across Europe, the Middle East and India. Was then invited to be president of the European arm of an international NGO, the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Followed with a similar role at a trade association, International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Both are large member organizations committed to creating a better built environment. In between, I was the senior partner for real estate at a global executive search firm.

Along the way, I was lucky to meet Ulli, my Austrian wife of over 30 years. We have two great ‘kids’, Becca who manages an office here in the UK and Max who’s an officer in the US Army.

Now I’m…

…Setting up a new platform organization called urbanOvation. Our goal is to bring together Key stakeholders in cities, from the real estate industry to technology companies and government to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing cities around the world.

We live outside of London where I occasionally find time to indulge my passions of photography and cycling.

I’m excited to be a part of the E2M story, working with the team to find the partners and resources that will help the organisation grow.

5 bits of advice to my teenage self…

  • Seek and listen to people who are different from you. You may not always get along but you'll learn something from them.
  • Celebrate who you are! Don’t let other people’s opinions of you drag you down.
  • Embrace challenges and change, miracles do happen, caterpillars become butterflies!
  • Be a sponge, stay curious, don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Find a mentor (or two) and make good use of their wisdom.

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