SPP’s new Senior Associate Peter Slade

Meet our recent recruit Peter Slade, a Royal Australian Air Force Officer turned management consultant. With some incredible life experiences, Pete shares what he has learned from the RAAF and how it can be applied to the consulting world.

Peter started his career as a chartered accountant, gaining experience in auditing. He then made the move to the Royal Australian Air Force where he spent the last 10 years as a Commissioned Officer. During his time in the Air Force, Peter managed large and small teams through a variety of postings across Australia and internationally, where he was tasked with protecting remote facilities as well managing the day-to-day operations of an airbase. Peter holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School and now applies his strategic and tactical thinking, and his strong values in teamwork, to deliver solutions for our client projects.

Career highlight to date:
Serving with NATO in Afghanistan, and having the privilege of leading Australian soldiers on joint operations with the US Air Force.

Favourite thing about your typical day in the air force:
The variety. There was a new challenge to overcome every day, from tight deadlines, working with ambiguity (both very common in consulting too), to the biggest challenge of all – managing people.

What skills are transferrable from air force to consulting?
There are three skills that immediately come to mind:

  1. Being able to apply strategic and tactical planning. The military appreciation process is a strategic and tactical planning tool taught in the Australian Defence Force. Applying this tool to a problem enables it to be broken down into manageable parts. This then helps turn the ambiguous into the structured and systematic. In consulting, you need to be comfortable to work in the ambiguity, but then to work with systems and analysis to move forward to a pragmatic solution.
  2. Emotional intelligence and empathy. Working with people in high pressure environments gives you a good shortcut to developing emotional intelligence and empathy, vital for becoming a good team player. At SPP, most of our projects are a strong mix of team work and developing plans together, and then switching to autonomy to manage and deliver outcomes.
  3. Making decisions under pressure and practically experiencing that an 80% solution now is better than a 100% solution too late. This was critical in RAAF, but it’s actually something that successful companies do more and more now. Businesses operate in a fast-paced environment with constantly evolving technical and digital landscapes as well as, often, large-scale transformational change. So, most C-suite executives will say that an element of this 80% rule is very effective in driving decision-making forward.

Best piece of career advice you’ve received:
To ask for help when you need it; don’t suffer in silence. This is something I need reminding to do at times!

What do you do to keep yourself focused, professionally and personally?
Good planning is critical. I start with an end state and work back to where I am now. This maps out my time and space. I then allocate that time and space to plan what needs to be achieved. Time spent planning is seldom wasted. And as the old adage goes “over prepare, then go with flow”.

I also exercise every morning and get my heartrate up. This releases endorphins and fires up the metabolism – it’s the perfect start to the day. For me, it’s also a really good time to think about what needs to be achieved for the day.


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