From Industry to Consulting

Daria Smirnova

Senior Associate

Daria discusses her move from sports retailer Gymshark to Fairgrove, and what she does at Fairgrove outside of project work.

Why did you decide to move from industry into consulting?

Prior to joining Fairgrove, I worked at Gymshark, a sports apparel brand. I joined the commercial (e-commerce) team as an intern in my final year at Warwick Business School, when Gymshark only had 60 employees, and in two years moved to the Data & Insight team as Market Insight Manager. I loved my job, my colleagues’ energy and drive, and Gymshark’s culture as a whole – it was definitely a great place to start my career and I’ve learned a lot there! I helped out on a few projects related to Gymshark securing investment from General Atlantic, and that reignited the spark that I had previously developed for working in consulting – at university, I headed Warwick Women in Consulting. I had also done a couple of spring weeks (one at McKinsey and one at Kearney) which had provided a good insight into what consultants do, given me the opportunity to work through some real-life case studies, and highlighted the skills required to excel in consulting. I was also craving a new learning opportunity and wanted to explore the world outside of sports apparel. Consulting seemed like a perfect way to do so!   

How did your prior experience prepare you for a career in consulting?

Without a doubt, there are a lot of transferrable skills, especially due to the nature of my previous role in the insight team where I focused on market trends, consumer research and competitor analysis. For example, I have worked on a project at Fairgrove for a sports nutrition brand, and my understanding of the market landscape and e-commerce definitely helped. In addition, soft skills, including how to act professionally, be organised and manage projects, are highly transferable. However, I do find working in consulting very different to working in industry. Consulting is faster-paced and you get exposure to different industries and clients the whole time. It doesn’t let you stay in your comfort zone for long! If that is something that excites you, then you should definitely give it a go! 

What has been your favourite project to date?

So far, I have worked on a wide variety of projects at Fairgrove, ranging from industrial trucking to social media marketing agencies. Yet, my favourite to date was a project where we analysed an ESG communications agency. I really enjoyed learning about the market, understanding the various regulations and other reasons why ESG is becoming a lot more important for corporations, as well as exploring the competitive landscape and the types of services these agencies can provide and the clients they serve. I particularly enjoyed talking to the client company’s customers, as you get to understand a little bit about their ESG strategies and how they make decisions.  

What responsibility do you have outside project work?

Every employee at Fairgrove has a responsibility outside project work, and mine is marketing. I absolutely love it because I feel that it is not only a good way to apply what I’ve learnt during my masters in real life (I studied Strategic Marketing), but also because it adds a splash of creativity to what I do in my day-to-day (that is not to say that you can’t be creative with your slides!). My role includes designing and executing Fairgrove’s marketing strategy, maintaining the creation and distribution of marketing content, and running Fairgrove’s online presence to ensure that we are a recognised brand name. You get involved in a wide variety of tasks. For example, I am currently working on getting some merchandise for careers fairs, building up our online presence ahead of recruitment season, and setting up our volunteering and sustainability initiatives.   

Favourite Pastime
Saving millions of recipes on Instagram, being well aware that I will never make any of them and will yet again turn to my slightly sad ‘hot & savoury’ Huel meal for dinner!