Gilbert Christie 1943–2020

A tribute from his wife Sharon, daughter Jacqueline and son, James.

Gilbert James Christie was an inspirational organisational psychologist who had an expansive and evolving career of more than 50 years.  He was a chartered psychologist with both the British Psychological Society and the Australian Psychological Society and he leaves a lasting legacy.

Gil, as he was known, was born in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland on 13th January 1943. Despite the hardships of growing up in working class Leith in a post war era, Gil showed academic ability from a young age. He became Dux boy at Leith Academy and received a scholarship to Edinburgh University. He became the first person in his entire neighbourhood to go to university in 1961.

He felt very fortunate to have received outstanding mentorship at Edinburgh University from James Drever, Professor of Psychology; John Butcher, Associate Professor and Denis McMahon, Head of the Applied Psychology Unit. He graduated in 1967 with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology.

Gil then took up a position in Selection Services at British Airways in London, whilst also undertaking a Masters in Psychology at Birkbeck College. It was during this time in April 1969 that he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and he spent the next 14 months in a Sanatorium. The treatment he received for this disease ensured he recovered and survived, as many did not at the time. However, it would also contribute significantly to health issues later in life.

After his recovery, with family now residing in Australia, he decided to move to warmer climes and in 1971 took up a role at Tubemakers of Australia Limited in their Sydney office. It would be here that we would meet. We married in 1981, and went on to have two children, Jacqueline and Jamie.

In 1982, Gil established Christie Consulting Pty Ltd, an organisational psychology practice, consulting over the next 40 years to almost every sector in Australian business, including Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering, Education and Healthcare. Initially the business focused on recruitment and selection, then moved into career planning and development. In later years, Gil focused on coaching, counselling and mentoring in Australia and in the UK, and it was this type of work that would become the most fulfilling of his career.

Gil supervised numerous psychologist interns and he enjoyed working with them and learning from their younger perspective. He coached, mentored and trained hundreds of Australians over the years. Seeing them grow and develop their career paths was a real privilege. He was also a published author, releasing a book through Dymocks nationally in 1995 on the benefits of psychological testing to both business and individuals.

He had an incredibly strong work ethic, which he instilled in our children. This was developed in his youth, when he always had part-time jobs such as paper and milk runs. He was passionate about his work and it was a defining part of who he was as a person. He was known for saying that if you don’t jump out of bed with a swing in your step for the job you’re doing, then you are in the wrong profession.

Gil was also an avid rugby fan, stemming from his time as Captain of the First XV at Leith Academy, having been trained by his brother, Bill. 

He had a passion for walking and hill climbing for kilometres on end. Every return visit to Scotland involved a walk in the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh, which was a very special place to him, and we all have treasured memories of sharing this with him. Despite loving the lifestyle in Australia, his sense of place was always in Scotland.

He was a wonderful life partner and father, who will always be remembered for his constant love, support, wisdom, guidance and modelling, as well as his exaggerated storytelling, passionate curiosity of culture and world events, contagious work ethic and commitment to the cause.  

His friends and colleagues both near and far will remember Gil as an inspiration. A devoted friend and man of wise words who didn’t give advice but instead “held up a mirror”, he was known to many as someone who embodied a unique balance of intellectual and compassionate qualities that would always challenge your thinking. He has had a lasting impact on not only the careers but the lives of all those he came into contact with over the last 77 years.  

He died on 4th March 2020 of chronic lung disease and is survived by Sharon, Jacqueline and Jamie, their partners, Jon and Laura and his four beautiful grandchildren, Olivia, Liam, Eva and Ivy.

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