Desert Oak Associates is an Australian-based management consultancy with significant international experience, specializing in Business Transformation, Executive Advisory and Executive Coaching. Our clients range from one of Australia’s largest banks, leading global companies working in Asia, India and the Middle East, Australian-based companies, large franchise networks and fast paced high growth start-ups.

Our mission is to transform and grow our clients’ organizations at scale and speed by enabling leaders at all levels to contribute to their fullest potential.

Our Leader Led Change Model underpins the work we do with clients across Executive Advisory, Executive Coaching and Business Transformation. Our approach helps them successfully develop, plan, communicate and embed change in their organizations.

Our highly experienced Associates each have 25+ years blue chip industry experience as executives, mega project leaders, management consultants and educators.

Our Blue Box Leader Programs drive our clients’ business improvement KPIs, (such as customer centricity, operational excellence, re-organization), at scale, speed and organizational depth by aligning and enabling targeted cohorts of leaders.

Our Associates

Gary Cassidy

Gary is the Managing Director and founding partner of Desert Oak Associates. For the past 10 years he has worked extensively with boards, CEOs and senior executives of major corporations based in Australia, South East Asia, India, UK, USA and the Middle East. His work focusses on transforming the performance of leaders, teams and organisations.

Clients have included McDonald’s (Australia and the Asia region), CBA, Patricks, Freehills, PWC, Saudi Aramco, Dow, Equate, Asciano, Alsco and Hardcastle Corporation of India.

During his consulting career Gary advised the executive leaders and project directors of a US$40billion mega project to build a new chemical enterprise in Saudi Arabia. He has carried out a series of board effectiveness programs for a major Australian Bank and a board review for a leading project services company. He has advised on, designed and implemented several large-scale transformation programs for major corporates as well as being an advisor to both start-ups and franchisees.

From 1994 to 2001, he was Managing Director, Human Resources at Telstra Corporation, where he played a key role in the commercial transformation of Telstra during that period.

Prior to this he worked in executive search with Russell Reynolds and was a founding director of high tech joint venture with one of Australia’s largest law firms. Earlier in his career he worked as sport psychologist and was part of the 1988 Australian Olympic team.

Gary has a BA (Sociology) from Curtin University, a BSc (Psychology) with honours from the ANU and is an alumnus of the Wharton Advanced Management Programme. He is a former Director of the Australian Yachting Federation. He is passionate about his family, work, and sailing, cycle racing and reading.

Pepe Newton

Pepe has over 20 years Australian and international experience in business management and vocational education.

She works closely with executive teams to gain a sound understanding of the business and its drivers before developing and implementing targeted leader development solutions.

Pepe has developed a keen sense of how people learn and what development solutions work most effectively. As a specialist in instructional design she creates informative and hands-on programs, both online and face-to-face, that actively engage learners. With well-developed written and verbal communication skills, her work is valued for both the clarity of the materials and her facilitation skills.

Pepe has an impressive client list which includes McDonald’s both in Australia and internationally, Woolworths, Transport for NSW, Westpac Group Learning, Amalgamated Holding Ltd (Gold Class Cinemas), Service Skills Australia (Industry Skills Council), Corrective Services and NSW Fire Brigades.

She has a Bachelor of Training and Development and a Bachelor of Arts from University of New England, Certificate IV Training and Assessment and is an accredited FACET5 consultant. Pepe is a member of Australian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD).

Rob Johnson

Rob brings valuable bench-strength to Desert Oak’s executive advisory capacity – in particular in business transformation, planning and project execution. During his 35 years career in infrastructure, property and construction he has lead both mega projects and businesses in Australia, South East Asia, China, UK and Europe. As a highly accomplished and commercial leader, Rob has worked at the stakeholder interface with corporates, joint venture partners and numerous governments around the world.

Rob’s career highlights at Lend Lease Development include Project Director for London’s 2012 Olympic Village, the UK’s largest ever regeneration project – 2820 residential apartments with a construction cost of £1.4bn STG with fixed deadlines. Project Director for Rouse Hill Town Centre NSW – a large & innovative mixed-use development in Sydney with revenues of AUD$1.2 billion over 12 years. Global Project Director, Sydney responsible to the CEO to achieve consistency across the organization globally for a major organizational change & IT project integrating key elements of the solution with the UK, US, Asian, & Australian businesses

Prior to this he worked in other senior director roles at Lend Lease in Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore roles and various project management and operations roles with Civil and Civic (now Bovis Lend Lease)

Hi qualifications include an Associateship of Civil Engineering, Curtin University, Western Australia and MIE Aust CPEng.

Linda Cassidy

Linda has over 20 years work experience in financial services. She led the education and professional development businesses for two professional member organizations and a private education provider, and worked extensively with corporate clients on the design and delivery of innovative learning and development programs.

More recently she worked with the CEO and senior executive team of a leading member association at both at a strategic and operational level, on initiatives to grow the member base. A key part of her work involved negotiating and implementing partnerships with leading business schools, developing pathway programs for graduates to work opportunities in financial services; along with ongoing relationship management.

She also worked in the NFP sector as a deputy director, developing capacity building programs for staff working at Indigenous land councils across Australia. She successfully secured government support and funding for a national governance skills program for newly formed Indigenous corporations.

From her work in diverse sectors Linda has developed significant stakeholder management expertise. She has been a member of numerous industry advisory councils and task forces to determine future capability needs and identify key trends affecting the future of financial services.

Linda has a BA from Curtin University and Graduate Certificate of Marketing from UTS. She is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and a member of AICD.