LAVA Advisory Partners strengthens foothold in education and training sector with AIRDAT EOT deal. Read more.

LAVA series: Working at a challenger boutique – arriving at tailored client solutions over forced fits

For the seventh instalment of our new LAVA series, which focuses on our team’s varied experiences of moving from large corporations to an M&A boutique, we spoke to new hire Rob Telkman.

Before joining LAVA, Rob had a distinguished career at one of the Big Four firms, positioning him perfectly to comment on some major differences between traditional and challenger work environments. He has also worked with LAVA as a consultant for some time, so has a unique perspective on how we operate.

Here, Rob discusses his initial observations of what it’s like to switch from working at a global enterprise to an M&A boutique, as well as the main incentive for joining the LAVA team. 

“Arriving at tailored solutions over forced fits ” – Rob TelkmanAssociate Director


As someone who has spent most of my professional life working for a large organisation, often you don’t realise how much of your behaviour is a result of the firm’s culture and working practices that have been slowly instilled within you over time.

It’s great to be in an environment where the culture is starting with a blank piece of paper, thinking things through from first principles and having colleagues offer constructive challenges as to why you are doing something a certain way.

In my short time here, I’ve already seen that this brings with it a number of benefits.

It is refreshing for clients and other parties that we deal with on a day to day basis, as they quickly see that you are helping them think through their own unique situation rather than trying to force-fit a standardised approach. 

Not only does this allow us to get from A to B as efficiently as possible, but it makes for a more constructive relationship and allows us to get to a result that best suits our clients.

It is also motivational for our team, as we all feel empowered to bring ideas to the table that end up making a tangible and visible impact on our projects, working practices and overall business.

All of this, of course, requires the right mindset to make the most of the opportunity that comes with working for a small firm. The team we are building at LAVA all bring something different to the table in terms of their skills and experience, but we all share a collaborative and entrepreneurial approach – that was a big part of my decision to join the team!

Be the first to receive LAVA’s latest news and editorial updates by following LAVA on LinkedIn, and keep an eye out for the last instalment of our “Working at a Challenger Firm”  series featuring Associate Director Lesley Dorrance-King.