Trick or treat?

Happy Halloween.  Here in Sladen Land we have been running our own trick or treat experiment.  In the last month we have asked 250 participants 2 questions:
Before attending the development session how do you feel?  Are you looking at it as either:
  1. A trick – something painful, a waste of time, you’ve got something more important to do
  1. A treat – something valuable that will help, looking forward to the experience with positive feelings
62% of respondents answered this question prior to the session as a trick. 
We then asked the same cohort after the experience, what was the reality?  Were they tricked or did they feel treated?  The answer was that 97% of participants answered it was a treat.
This has created quite a stir here in the hub.  It has created several insights, not least, how often do we fall into the trap of feeling we’re being tricked.  Are we viewing things more glass half empty or glass half full? 
Which camp do you fall into?

I love this funny and thought provoking video.  I see both ‘Big Bird’ and ‘Little Bird’ behaviours – and to be honest I also can fall into both camps.  
I love ‘Big Bird’!  Big Birds could be a good idea, thought or initiative.  They are created and delivered from a place of positive intent.  They are ‘can do’ and generally collaborative.  They are trying to help and be solution orientated.
I also recognise ‘Little Bird’ behaviour.  They are NOT bad people just perhaps fearful of change or worried that they cant take on ’MORE STUFF”.  They say things like ‘here we go again yet another initiative’, ’this will never work’ or ’they don’t know what it’s really like’. The most disrupting ‘Little Bird’ behaviour is falling into being passive aggressive – saying one thing but doing another or just not speaking up at all!
This video helps me to try and spot my own behaviours and be more ‘Big Bird’.  What are your insights or reflections?

A big virtual hug
from us all at Sladen


A cuddle, a conversation or a change of pace are just some of the ways we can protect our mental health and support those we care about on World Mental Health Day today – and the other 364 days of the year too).
As we continue adapting to life in 2020, it is more important than ever that we take time to check in with our feelings, keep a healthy lifestyle and, if needed, ask for help.
So a big virtual hug from us all at Sladen!

Sonja Skopp joins Sladen Consulting

Sonja Skopp, Merck Healthcare KGaA Head of Operations in Oncology Research, has joined UK-based boutique consultancy Sladen Consulting as Strategy and Operations Director.

Sonja is a passionate, creative thinker with a strong business mind and more than 15 years corporate leadership experience. She is an analytical chemist by training, holding a PhD from the University of Basel. She has held various roles at Merck with increasing responsibility.

Prior to moving into Oncology Research, she was heading a group for the analytical development of investigational drugs and leading the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls activities for one of Merck’s Global Health programmes within a multi-partner consortium until 2017.  
Sonja says: “My current role at Merck has been as a key contributor to the Oncology Research department in terms of portfolio management, strategy, finance and communications. I have also led key people and change management initiatives in R&D and across various functions.”
Over the past three years she has worked alongside Sladen from the client side at Merck during selected strategy development projects while facilitating programmes around people, behaviour and culture.
At Sladen, Sonja will have a diverse role. She will develop Sladen’s strategy, direct operations and have a client-facing position. She will also facilitate the Sladen associates around the world in delivering global programmes for clients in major industries including the pharmaceutical, finance, and food and drink.
Sonja says: “Seeing Sladen’s global team in full flight, delivering key programmes to my Merck colleagues globally, has inspired my passion to help people and teams thrive and drive change. Seeing the positive business results of their work gave me the courage to make this leap.

Merck is supporting my move to Sladen. I am also retaining a role at Merck, as I will be able to develop my skills in this area and bring fresh ideas back to benefit that company too.

Sonja Skopp

Sladen Consulting founder, Richard Colley, says: “This is a bold move by Sonja and it reflects a new way of shaping one’s career: sharing the best practice of one business across another; not being in a single job but expressing your energies and skills in various roles.  She will still be working for a major global corporation as well as for our boutique consultancy.  We are thrilled that Sonja has joined Sladen and we know she will contribute hugely to our growth.
“This important move is supported and assisted by Merck Healthcare R&D.”
Sonja will dedicate 80% of her working time to Sladen while remaining a 20% employee of Merck where she will continue to have managerial input into the Oncology Research department.

We love this – it makes our hearts sing.  And, when it comes to non-verbal communication, Jerry hits the nail on the head.
Of course, it demonstrates the huge impact we make without even saying anything. We have the immense power to communicate emotion. It shows that we need to think about how we are in our virtual offices, how we look into our cameras.  Also, the impact at home of communicating or not, such as looking at the phone when we should be looking at – and talking with – our kids.
Welcome aboard, Jerry, and thank you for this glorious insight!

Some of the Sladen Consulting family enjoyed amazing weather when they gathered in the Peak District in mid-January.

The purpose of the meeting was to join together as a network to build relationships, share learning and think about how we could foster  collaboration as a team. We were amazed about what we learnt and the ideas that emerged. Yes, of course the weather and great venue ( helped, but it was the energy and passion of the whole team that made the event magical.  Thanks to all who participated.

When Sladen Consulting was conceived almost 14 years ago my vision was to work from home within a radius of 50 miles.  So much for my forward planning – I totally failed!  For the last two years I have only worked in the UK for 5 days.  I love international travel and I love the privilege and luck I have had to visit some amazing places.  But there is nothing quite like working at home – my home country that is.  

Imagine my delight when a friend and valued customer invited me to support a team meeting in the UK – I jumped at the chance and loved every minute as you can probably see from the selfie below.




Sladen Consulting love to have fun!  This year’s Christmas retreat was spent in the amazing city of Prague.  Our wonderful colleague and “goddess of all things complicated”, Anna, accompanied by her husband John, traveled with Julie and I to this medieval historic city.  We had an action packed 2 days including a snowy city cycle tour, Christmas markets and shopping as well as copious quantities of their world famous pork knuckle, sausages and beer.  

We wish you all a wonderful festive season and look forward to seeing you in 2019.




I am seriously blessed to be lucky enough to have found a career I love.  One of the additional benefits is that, at times I find myself in some amazing locations.  

Cape Cod, at Christmas, on the beach, is one such example.  The most senior leaders of a global R&D organisation chose this venue to spark their creativity, inspire innovative thought and have conversations that would make the difference.




What could a team possibly do in deepest, darkest rural Italy?  Of course there was only one thing – truffle hunting.  Of course!  When the idea was first discussed I was highly skeptical.  I thought it would be a set up, an absolutely fake experience created for the corporate tourist.  In reality, I was surprised and amazed.  

We were met by a lovely Italian couple and their pet dog.  Not only did they educate us in the “whys and wherefores” of truffles, but also on the rural aspects of Italian life that had gone on for centuries.  We slowed down and were encouraged to notice our environment and not miss things such as the types of trees, where the water flowed from and the various insects and wildlife.  

The walk was wonderful – up hill and down dale through the woods and I was amazed how the dog searched out and found our hidden treasure.  We found 8 in total with a retail value of about 800 Euros – not bad for a countryside walk!  So, this curious event, and unique team building experience had many lessons, not least “don’t jump to conclusions” but the main one for me was to be present, to slow down, and to notice the small things.  I wonder what we miss by not doing this?




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