Chris was born in England, and began his working career in the Merchant Navy serving an apprenticeship as a Marine Engineer. He was later promoted to Second Engineer Officer on supertankers. He resigned from the Merchant Navy in order to attend the University of Wales, where he attained a Bachelor of Science Degree with First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering. In 1973 he immigrated to South Africa and in 1982 obtained a Masters Degree in Business Leadership from UNISA.