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Building a Culture to be Proud Of

Patrick Woodrow


Patrick discusses the importance of a good culture at Fairgrove, the challenges associated with rapid firm growth, and what English grads can bring to the consulting table!

What are you most proud of at Fairgrove?

Probably our culture. Everyone knows that culture eats strategy for breakfast – because if you haven’t got the right culture, the strategy will fail – so we are constantly trying to strike the right balance between being a progressive, post-Covid, 21st century employer with being a highly-responsive, premium-quality, maximum-integrity professional services firm. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive and, as it turns out, the solution isn’t that complicated. You just have to hire really good people, build a relationship with them, eliminate bureaucracy, and then trust them to be brilliant. We have an excellent team-building agenda at Fairgrove and in many instances our colleagues become our friends. When we’re recruiting, we place just as much emphasis on cultural fit as ability and it’s really paying off. We’ve grown fees at over 25% per annum since our inception 10.5 years ago and that success is down to us having a team of really smart, likeable, diligent and fun people.

What is your biggest challenge?

The perennial challenge for us is maintaining quality while growing so rapidly. We benefit from ‘economies of experience’ in the sense that the more projects we do, the more insight we develop and the more valuable we become to our clients and, hence, the easier it is to be shortlisted for pitches. At the same time, our network of contacts expands with each new project delivered and each new colleague we employ, so we are constantly meeting potential new clients. This gives us confidence that we can maintain our growth trajectory but since it’s not always possible to recruit the talent we need ahead of the demand, we have to manage our growth quite carefully to ensure we are servicing clients with the right level of experience and expertise, while not overloading the team. This occasionally means we have to turn away work – and that’s not always easy because being available is part of the service. It’s a high-quality problem to have.

How did a degree in English prepare you for a career in consulting?

A huge part of being a good consultant is being a good story-teller. Being able to relate anecdotes, case studies, experiences from previous assignments, business trajectories and so on, is essential to getting client buy-in to your ideas and solutions. There’s an old adage (often attributed to Einstein) that says if you can’t describe something in simple language, you don’t understand it, so the ability to write concise, accurate English is critical, especially when describing complex analyses or esoteric business models. For all their analytical brilliance, the engineers, scientists and economists often still need a bit of help with this!

Top 5 Dylan Tracks
Visions Of Johanna. Brownsville Girl. Mississippi. Chimes Of Freedom. Boots Of Spanish Leather.

Three Words To Describe Fairgrove
Caring. Entrepreneurial. Ascendant.