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Home / International Women’s Day 2023 – Christine Mitten

International Women’s Day 2023 – Christine Mitten

There are many fantastic women that are part of Houghton International, but this International Women’s Day we want to highlight one woman without whom there might never have been a Houghton International to begin with.

In 1984, Christine Mitten, along with her husband Ron, founded Houghton International in a tiny Houghton le Spring industrial unit. They didn’t know then that the small industrial business they had started would one day grow to be a world-class engineering company. To be a woman running a business in the 1980s was, of course, far from commonplace, even more so in the heavy engineering sector. However, Christine was never afraid to do things differently. Her strong values were instilled in the business from the very beginning and have shaped Houghton International’s culture to this day.

From a young age, Christine’s desire to see the world took her around the globe, from moving to Zambia with her husband aged just 20, to backpacking around Cuba with a school friend whilst in her mid-60s. As well as her love of adventure, Christine was a firm believer in fairness, equality and integrity.

Sadly, Christine was diagnosed with MS, which she lived with for over 20 years. At one point, she was unable to climb a flight of stairs or reach the end of her own driveway. A fiercely independent woman, Christine was determined to fight her illness. She radically changed her lifestyle, with a particular focus on controlling and even reversing the effects of MS through diet and exercise. Keen to raise awareness of MS and how to manage it, Christine wanted to give others hope that they too could fight the condition. She aimed to instil her determination in others and show them how they could keep on living their lives to the full.

In 2013 Christine’s MS was declared benign and, shortly before she died in 2016, the woman who had once been wheelchair-bound climbed Machu Picchu in Peru.

Christine’s legacy has been carried on through son Michael Mitten, now the CEO of Houghton International. Houghton International’s ‘Mission, Values and Principles,’ still true to those original values Christine brought to the business, can be found displayed throughout the company’s workshops, offices and meeting rooms and are embedded into our ways of working.

Houghton International’s apprenticeship scheme, first introduced in the very early years of the business with Christine and Ron at the helm, has garnered many awards over the years and is integral to the company’s success. An industry-leading employer, Houghton International was named one of the top 10 ‘Best Places to Work’ in the North East, MAKE UK’s SME of the Year, and, most recently, winner of the AEMT’s Diversity in Engineering Award.

However, accolades only tell part of the story. Houghton International’s culture, processes and procedures have shaped a business where equality is in-built throughout. Women across the business, from operations to central services to sales and business development, are raising the bar for quality, reliability and innovation in everything that we do.

There is still work to be done within the engineering sector to attract and retain women, but at Houghton International we believe we have laid the groundwork for success. And we might never have made it this far without the culture and strong values instilled in Houghton International by Christine Mitten.

Related Pages

About Houghton International
Our History

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