Paul McDonald

Sydney, Australia


Paul McDonald is Managing Director of Strategic Knowhow, an Australian strategic advisory firm he established in 1994 to create value for its clients by mobilizing highly skilled and experienced professional consultants to deliver both sustainable and measurable outcomes. Its core services are: strategy development and execution; business improvement; project leadership; board governance and assessment; commercial contract negotiation; procurement reform, executive coaching and mentoring; major issues resolution; and various kinds of facilitation.


Paul’s past and present clients include: Adelaide Brighton; Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Australian Grain Technologies; Australian Institute of Company Directors; AWB Limited; Brisbane Water; Burson Marsteller Asia Pacific; Challenger Financial Services Group; Deutsche Bank; Economic Development Authority (SA); Genesys Wealth Solutions; Go Vita; Hunt & Hunt Lawyers; Jones & Rickard Group; Korn/Ferry International; McKinsey & Company; Macquarie Group; Mission Australia; Murray-Darling Basin Commission; National Transport Commission; Orica; Otis Australasia; Penrith City Council; Port Kembla Port Corporation; QBE(LMI); RailCorp NSW); Response Group Engineering (Ireland); Riverland Water; Royal Motor Yacht Club; Scantech International; South Australian Water Corporation; State Forests NSW; Sydney Ports Corporation; Sydney Water Corporation; Tasmanian Ports Corporation (TasPorts); Telstra; Transport Construction Authority (NSW); Treasury & Finance Victoria; United Utilities Australia; United Utilities Plc (UK); WorleyParsons. (Profiles on Paul and Strategic Knowhow are available with further details on capabilities and client engagements.) Paul has over 30 years experience as a senior executive and lead consultant in the public and private sectors in the fields of strategy development, strategy implementation, executive coaching, commercial contract negotiation, procurement reform, project management, change management, economics, finance, and general management gained from working in Australia, the USA and the UK.


As a lead consultant, trusted adviser and facilitator since 1994 Paul has developed a strong track record of applying his ‘strategic know-how’ to deliver tangible benefits for clients, especially in challenging and complex environments undergoing change and transformation. In particular, he specialises in collaborative engagement with client boards, CEOs and senior management, working with them to find creative and sustainable solutions to complex problems. Paul has applied his strategic advisory expertise extensively on major structural/competition reform projects and engagements, particularly in the water, energy, transport, ports and agribusiness sectors, both in Australia and overseas. He has first hand experience with major projects/investment facilitation, and has undertaken major public policy development and review, strategy development and implementation, and organisational change assignments, both as a lead consultant and a CEO/senior executive.


Paul has a reputation as an expert negotiator. He has undertaken successful ‘lead negotiator’ engagements on a number of major commercial procurement contracts for private and public sector clients, and he has a similar track record with major issues resolution, particularly as they relate to major commercial contracts. Paul is an experienced and successful executive coach and mentor. Since 1994 he has provided leadership coaching and mentoring services to some of Australia’s top companies and major NSW government businesses. His coaching frameworks, based on rigorous measurement and the application of seasoned business knowledge, ensure that client executives meet their objectives and client organisations realise a superior return on their investment. Between 2007 and 2012 Paul was a Senior Associate and founding member of Executive Coaching International ( a Sydney headquartered firm providing premium leadership coaching and mentoring services.


Senior executive positions Paul has held include:


  • Executive Director, Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Sydney.
  • Director-General / Chief Executive, Department of Business and Regional Development, NSW Government, Sydney (Fahey Government)
  • Deputy Director-General, Department of State Development, NSW Government, Sydney (Greiner and Fahey Governments)
  • Senior Manager, Group Strategic Projects, Managing Director’s Office, Westpac, Sydney.
  • Director, Australian Department of Finance, Americas Regional Office, Washington DC, USA (Hawke Government)
  • Principal, British Treasury, London, UK (Thatcher Government)
  • Chief Finance Officer, Australian Department of Finance, Canberra (Fraser and Hawke Governments)


Paul has tertiary qualifications in economics and commerce, and has undertaken a residential program in advanced management at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, USA. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management. He is currently a company director and in the past has served on the boards of several companies. He has also been a member of several not-for-profit boards and advisory councils. Paul is the co-author of a landmark book on industry economics published by Pergamon Press, Oxford, and author/co-author of numerous published articles covering topics on strategy, strategic foresight, industry economics, and financial management in government. He has presented numerous speeches on these and other subjects, including several to international conferences in the US and Canada. Paul is also a trained and accredited executive coach and mentor and mentor trainer.



Awards & Recognition


Speaking Highlights