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Great Circle Associates is a management consulting firm specializing in the rapid but considered implementation of strategic– often disruptive change – change at core.  A client owned and driven process, we plot and navigate the most direct route – often not the most obvious – to the desired end state.

The need for change at core can be prompted by a variety of external forces such as industry consolidation, regulatory change, or new competitive entrants. Internal factors such as a rapid sustained increase in revenues, a decline in profitability and changes in ownership, business structure or leadership can also necessitate change at core.

Regardless of the cause, change at core is the most demanding to plan for and effectively manage.  Taking several forms, it typically impacts the fundamental, sometimes entrenched operations, structure and culture of an organization. Change at core is always accompanied by strain on employees and other resources, and the consequent risk of organizational destabilization and loss of business momentum, especially during the first 90 days of implementation.

Great Circle Associates was therefore founded with a single purpose:  To enable the rapid, well executed implementation of sustainable change at core – that which is necessitated by the adoption of strategic decisions aimed at breaking from the status quo.


Great Circle Associates’ value proposition takes advantage of the President and Founder’s experience and track record at the planning for and execution of complex business and organizational change in rapidly shifting and volatile environments. Lin Coughlin is a seasoned operating executive with more than 25 years of experience in corporate America, including 10 years of for-profit board experience, the last four of which she served as chair.

In that capacity she led an industry unique consolidation of five mutual fund boards to two at a large investment management organization, including the creation of transformative and consistently practiced governance procedures in support of a Washington based, blue ribbon panel’s examination and promulgation of leading edge best governance practices by mutual fund boards.

Other examples of projects aimed at breaking from the status quo that Ms. Coughlin has led include:

  • The rationalization of a large corporate services group at a Fortune 150 company, leading to $100 million in annual cost reductions – booked within 15 months from the start of the project.  In turn, the dismantling and redistribution of the corporate services operations to enable value-creating spin-offs of four standalone publicly held companies – achieved in less than 18 months from announcement

  • The development and launch of a retail affinity business at one of the top 20 global asset management organizations, separate from but adjacent to a maturing core business.  The largest and most competitive business of its kind, profitability was achieved in less than 24 months; industry competitive profitability was realized in four years

  • The overhaul of a mission critical fund accounting platform – including people, process and technology -- at a large global asset management organization – accomplished in less than 18 months

  • The design of, negotiation of seed funding for and the launch of a transformational business application, developed to support the migration of a large, rapidly maturing financial services business to a web-based model – completed in 18 months

  • The leadership of a 24 month long enterprise-wide initiative at a diversified global financial services organization to position the US retail business for strategic options, resulting in its acquisition by a European based global financial services organization, building a competitive footprint in the U.S. Key accomplishments included:

    • The turnaround of two of the four flagships retail businesses
    • The consolidation of five product lines to one
    • The integration of all non-customer facing operations
    • The consolidation of five boards to two

A Great Circle Route as a Guiding Principle

On the commonly used Mercator projection map, the shortest and most direct route appears to be a simple straight line.  Maritime explorers have known for centuries, however, that the spherical shape of the earth dictates a more complicated set of calculations to mark and navigate the fastest and most efficient travel between two distant points.  This course, known as the Great Circle Route, reflects an arc of constantly changing direction. 

Great Circle Associates is guided by this fundamental principle --  enabling clients to plot, navigate and course correct for the most direct route -- often not the most obvious -- toward the rapid but well considered implementation of enduring change at core.

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