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5 Questions with Bernard Salt - Economics and Finance Speaker - 13 March 2015

5 Questions with Bernard Salt - Economics and Finance Speaker

With the end of financial year fast approaching we asked one of our top economics and finance speakers Bernard Salt some curly questions.

What is the most important advice you have ever received?

I started work in the planning department of what was known as the Geelong Regional Commission in 1983.  It was a statuary authority responsible for planning and development.  I had a chat with one of the directors after working there for a year.  He took me aside and explained what I should do and how I should go about getting there. He advised that I go into consulting and from there move backwards and forwards into government and the private sector.  It wasn’t so much the advice, it was the idea of thinking about the whole of my career.  I had only ever thought of being a school teacher; that discussion opened my eyes to what was possible within a career.  I did indeed go into consulting and never left.  It wasn’t the advice; it was the idea of thinking broadly about the future.  I had never been exposed to that level of thinking before

Who is your personal hero and why?

I have met and have had professional dealings with a range of women in corporate Australia and in media.  And they are all impressive in terms of their capability as indeed are men in similar positions; all people at the top of the tree so to speak.  But the person I most admire and who is my personal hero is my mother.  She never had the benefit of a formal education; she was home schooled.  She is tough and resilient in a way that all depression kids are resilient.  She raised 6 kids in a housing commission house on a single working class wage.  Dad of course helped and was a steady provider.  But it was my mother who was the real strength and example in that household.  It shows the power of parenting; real values shine through and shape your kids’ thinking for the whole of their lives.  Mum turns 90 this year.

What is the hardest lesson you have ever had to learn?

There are times in life and in corporate life when you have to make a call and take the hard road.  As a consultant you have to be able to say no to a client even when things are tough.  Sometimes pain now merely averts a greater pain later.  The older I get the more experienced I am in dealing with clients, staff and in fact the media.  You need to work out what your values are and make sure you stick by those values.  Don’t be pushed and pulled in every direction by the market; it’ll just end in tears down the track.  Stand firm; take the hit; move on.

What gets you up in the morning?

About 20 years ago I was told by my boss to give the demographics thing away.  I ignored him.  I liked what I was doing and accepted that I would never make my fortune talking about demographics.  It was a hard decision at the time but I never regretted it.  The reason is that I have always enjoyed getting up in the morning to work; if you love what you do then getting up and doing it day after day is not a chore.  Find your passion and getting up is easy!

What keeps you awake at night?

I’m not sure I should tell you this but when I wake in the middle of the night I often check media monitors.  I live in constant apprehension that something I have said to the media will be misconstrued of be the subject of a media frenzy (in a bad way).  So the thing that often keeps me awake at night is watching how comments made to the media throughout the day can be multiplied through media and increasingly social media for the next 24 hours.  I don’t know how politicians do it.  At least with my stuff it's relatively benign.

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