Steve Tighe Is Mr May

Business Strategist and Author
Birthplace: Melbourne
Family: partner Sharon, daughter Miliani (7)
Star sign: Sagittarius
Favourite food: pizza

When he graduated from his Bachelor of Business degree, Steve Tighe jumped into a job with Foster’s brewing working in market research and analysis. It was a role which involved analysing trends and looking at the past to plan for the future of the beer market. 

A bit of a dream job, really.

After several years in the role Steve returned to study at Swinburne University to do a Masters in Strategic Foresight. It was there that he began to question the methodology he had always used, and to see some flaws in basing business decisions solely on the past.

‘Looking at past trends is never a good way of seeing the discontinuities that the future always brings,’ he says. 

‘Plus, if everyone in the industry is using the same trends to predict the future of the industry, then there is no competitive advantage there.’

‘So one day I asked the question: “How do you get ahead of trends?”’

‘I was only about two months into my Masters’ degree at the time, but I wrote to the CEO of Fosters and posed the question to him. ‘How do we get ahead of trends?’ I suggested that Fosters needed a Foresight Manager, and he basically gave me the job I had created. I think at the time I was probably the only person in the world with that job title.’

His job was to basically understand how Australian society might evolve over the next 10 years, what different consumer wants and needs might emerge, and the new beverage opportunities these changes presented to Foster’s.

‘I remember sitting down at my desk on the first day in my new role and thinking, “Where do I start?”’ 

From there Steve introduced a new way of strategic planning at Foster’s, encouraging management to develop future scenarios that enabled them to anticipate future change rather than responding to it.

During his last year at Foster’s Steve started getting requests from other corporations to facilitate strategy workshops and speak at conferences. In 2007 he left Foster’s to focus solely on his consulting business, which has been growing ever since. 

Each year he works on at least one major strategic consulting project and delivers around 15 public speaking engagements. His corporate clients have included Aristocrat Technologies, Kraft, Clubs NSW, State Library of Victoria, Melton City Council, and most recently Stone & Wood.

As part of the work, Steve spends a lot of time writing.

‘I’d always planned to write a book one day based upon what I’d learned along the way.  

‘My first few manuscripts were turned down, but the last one was accepted, because, the editor at Wiley said, I’d learned to tell a story.’

Steve’s book Rethinking Strategy is published by Wiley and can be found in book stores and online from 1 May.

Steve says, ‘I’m really happy with the final product. What is good about it I believe, is there is something in there for every business.’

What’s the best thing about your job?

Seeing new opportunities for a company and collaborating to make them a reality is really rewarding. When you involve the employees in creating the strategy you create an army of internal advocates. They then own the process and it’s not something imposed upon them. 

Worst thing?

Working on your own and writing can be isolating experiences. I miss the social aspect of company life – working with a group of people to achieve a common goal.

Hobbies? Gym, socialising with friends.

Work life philosophy? It’s ok to be sporadic.

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