Oli Lestner 2

The Evolution of Fairgrove

Oli Lestner

Director

Oli describes his career path from KPMG to Fairgrove, and how the firm has evolved since he joined in 2017.

What has your career path to date looked like, and what led you to Fairgrove?

I joined KPMG’s management consulting team straight out of university, having left university convinced consultancy was the best place to begin my career (inspired by a McKinsey programme I took part in during the Easter break of second year). At KPMG, I worked predominantly on large-scale operational transformation projects for FTSE 100 and international clients, studying for an accounting qualification alongside work.

The world of work definitely took some adjusting to: there was often a technical angle to the predominantly cost reduction focused projects I worked on, which was compounded by the consulting jargon that so famously pervades big consultancies. Eventually, and under the guidance of a few excellent senior consultants, I realised that clients were mainly interested in common sense advice and practical solutions, which has steered my approach to work since.

After 3 years at KPMG, I was keen to work on the revenue side of the equation, and had an interest in providing more strategic advice at the board-level, whether on growth strategy or mergers and acquisitions. I joined Fairgrove in 2017, and 35 CDD and 10 growth strategy projects later, I can safely say I’ve done exactly that. Today I concentrate on advice to investors and management teams in the industrial and industrial services space, which remains a very broad remit.

How has Fairgrove changed since you’ve joined and where do you see it going in the next five years?

When I joined Fairgrove, we were a small boutique with a few repeat clients but with a compelling value proposition and an ambition to grow. Since then, we have done some serious hard yards – developing our capabilities and expertise, widening our client base, growing and diversifying our team, and building out all the supporting infrastructure. As our reputation for high-quality advice and our list of credentials have grown, our work has evolved towards larger projects on bigger transactions. Looking ahead, I’m confident we can continue this momentum and take the firm to new heights.

What has been your favourite project so far?

I’m loath to pick out a single project as my favourite, as I’ve genuinely found each new project as interesting as the last. However, particular highlights include:

  • Commercial due diligence on a management consultancy supporting the MoD and major defence contractors on large defence programmes
  • Commenting on the business case for building and operating an indoor vertical hydroponics farm for growing fresh herbs and baby leaves to sell into the UK sandwich market
  • Growth strategy for a subsea oil and gas equipment manufacturer that was exploring diversifying into renewables
  • Commercial due diligence on a high-end race car constructor and operator

Any words of wisdom for people interested in applying to Fairgrove?

Following on from my answer to the previous question, I think that in order to enjoy and thrive in strategy consulting and Fairgrove, you have to possess a near-insatiable curiosity about businesses and markets, as you’ll be learning about a new one every few weeks. You should also be someone with a real determination for reaching a complete and right answer. Hopefully you can recognise these attributes in yourself before applying to Fairgrove.

Favourite film:
The Prestige

Favourite non-fiction book:
Guns, Germs and Steel