When the Loma Prieta earthquake hit northern California in 1989, Lucien Canton talked his way into the San Francisco emergency operations center to volunteer his services. He would spend several days there before being officially activated as military Reservist by FEMA. He never expected that his service during the disaster would result in a change of career that would send him to exotic locations in the Pacific and the Caribbean, involve him in Federal disaster planning at the national level and see him appointed in 1996 as the Director of Emergency Services for San Francisco by Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr.
Changing careers was easy for Canton. A career officer with extensive overseas service, he left the Army to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Entering the private security profession, he quickly built a reputation as a progressive thinker and thought leader. His book, Guard Force Management, successfully applies business principles to the running of a contract guard company and is still considered a classic.
Canton applied these same skills to his new career in emergency management, applying social science research and business management concepts to a field that still views itself largely as a technical discipline rather than a managerial one. He is a frequent speaker at national conferences and a guest lecturer at universities both in the United States and abroad. His book, Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs, is used as a textbook for both graduate and undergraduate courses.
As a consultant, Canton specializes in helping managers lead better in crisis by understanding the human factors often overlooked in crisis planning such as leadership and corporate culture. He also teaches clients how to adapt to and thrive in new environments. He believes that the consultant’s job is to partner with the client to change the client’s condition for the better.