This month's 60 Second Interview is with Nicholas Farhi, Partner at OC&C Consultants, New York.
Company: OC&C Strategy Consultants
Founded: 1987 Staff: 500 globally; 20 in New York but growing quickly!
Lives: Tribeca in the southern tip of Manhattan
Studied: Physics at Oxford
Eating: Currently enjoying the variety of New York, from poke to pizza via excellent fried chicken!
Drinking: Negroni. I just can’t get enough of the bitter taste!
Reading: The Righteous Mind, about the psychology of morals
Business book: Good Strategy / Bad Strategy, which is more or less the only good book on strategy I have ever read
Talents: Investing in loss-making start-ups – eight so far. Plus one which is surprising all the investors by making a profit, especially since it is a whisky bar!
Motto: “You cannot make a revolution with silk gloves”. Awkwardly, it is a quote from Stalin…
What are you most enjoying about living in New York?
The pace - it makes London look languid. And the open-ness – everyone is willing to take a meeting, and you are really judged on your own merits.
How do you know The Barton Partnership?
We have worked with TBP in London for many years, and they have helped us find some great talent, so it was a natural choice for us when we wanted to start recruiting in New York. Their team here is first class.
Why did you first get into strategy?
It was kind of an accident – it was the most interesting sounding career at the Oxford milkround, and certainly more interesting than the Physics PhD I was considering. I have stayed because of the challenge, the variety, and the great colleagues. In hindsight, it was a very lucky accident!
What have you found to be the biggest differences between the UK and the US consulting markets?
There are huge similarities, but a couple of differences: even quite niche companies are big enough to be able to afford premium advice. And the companies are headquartered in much less convenient locations! In the UK, I did a lot of 1-hr train journeys; in the US I get a lot of 3-hr flights.
What has been your most memorable consulting assignment throughout your career?
There is nothing like a food manufacturing client to bring to life in a really tangible way how the modern economy works. It was a long time ago, but seeing vast vats of ingredients was very memorable!
Tell us about OC&C Strategy Consultants.
We’re a sector-specialist strategy boutique. We focus in sectors which we think are fun, which have a high mix of strategy work, and which also happen to have high PE participation. They are: Retail, Leisure, Consumer Goods, Media & Tech, Travel & Transport and Business Services.
Why would someone join OC&C’s New York office?
We’re a well-funded start-up, with all the opportunities that entails, plus the variety, challenge and learning curve of strategy consulting engagements.
What is the ambition of the firm in New York and across the US over the coming years?
We want to get to 50 people in New York by 2020, then we’re going to think about whether to go for a second city, or carry on growing in the Big Apple.