One of the projects Gretchen Peri has led: Washington’s new sexual-assault-kit tracking system.
Meet Gretchen Peri, who works for Slalom, a consulting firm headquartered in Seattle.
What do you do? I have three roles at Slalom. First, I serve as director for our public-sector industry practice, working with local government and education clients. Second, I help lead Slalom’s innovation program for the Seattle office to further build our culture of innovation and disruptive mindset. Finally, I sponsor the Seattle office’s Women’s Leadership Network to engage and empower women at Slalom to achieve their full and unique potential.
How did you get started in that field? I started my career working for the federal government, including the U.S. Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security. After getting a master’s degree in public administration at UW, I passed on pursuing a Ph.D. in economics to focus on consulting to government agencies — best decision I ever made and the catalyst for many amazing adventures. I found my passion in helping public servants solve problems quicker and more thoroughly.
What are some of the projects you’ve led? Recently, I helped the Washington State Patrol purchase a statewide sexual-assault-kit tracking system, one of the first of its kind in the U.S. After months of tireless work, the system went live throughout Washington state at the end of October and now gives survivors the ability to check the status of their kits online.
Another project … was helping the Seattle Center develop its strategic technology plan … to define a customer-engagement experience, leveraging technology, that would be world-class and match the prestige of the center. I remember exploring the Seattle Center as a child, and spending time there recently for this project helped remind me what a magical campus it is.
The last project I’ll highlight was helping the Washington State Housing Finance Commission with a strategy and approach to replace their key contact management/project tracking system. I get tremendous enjoyment from helping clients improve their business through leveraging technology.
What’s a typical day like? Some of my most exciting days begin with a discussion with one of our Slalom consultants working on [projects such as an] image-recognition service that identifies which pet to feed what food, or a unique and exciting capability for drones. My colleagues are amazing!
From there, I’ll likely go to a client meeting … to make sure we have what we need for success or discuss what problems are top-of-mind and how we might resolve them. A variety of additional meetings consume the [rest of the] day, such as planning for our next internal hackathon, discussing Slalom’s efforts on homelessness in Seattle, setting up our innovation lab with the latest technology devices, or planning for an upcoming practice team meeting.
After work, I love spending time with my husband, Skip, and two children, Ava and Austin. We’ve been remodeling a 100-year-old farmhouse on Bainbridge Island, which is finally coming to the end of a five-year-long process. We have a hobby farm with chickens and rabbits today, but in the past we’ve had sheep, bees, cows and ducks.
What’s the best part of the job? There are so many aspects of my job that I love, it’s difficult to pick the best part. I love hearing my colleagues’ stories about the amazing and impactful work they’re doing or a new idea they have. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness their courage and vulnerability when they share their ideas with me. In return, my goal is to help make connections between people, ideas and resources that will, in turn, help them realize their vision. When someone is brave enough to give their ideas a voice, I make it my personal mission to help bring those ideas to life.
How’s your commute? Taking the ferry to work every day is a wonderful experience. There are occasions when the captain will announce that we’re slowing down for a pod of orcas (and everyone runs to the window to see), how the high school team placed at a sports competition, or that someone is celebrating a birthday. Commuting on the ferry is a regular reminder that we’re part of a community and to be kind to our “neighbors.”