Kirk Saari
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Kirk returned to Oliver Wyman after taking six years to lead a strategy and transformation team for the commercial banking business line of a major bank. His previous experience as a consultant helped him to develop a clear communication style, the ability to define a problem statement, and rigorous problem solving, while his time in industry allowed him to develop as a strategist.

Working at a large bank gave Kirk an appreciation for how to achieve progress in large organizations. He learned that while having the right ideas is important, having a foundation in place for moving good ideas forward is crucial. This includes having the right people in the right roles with alignments between functions, the right technology foundation and investment appetite, and a culture that rewards pursuing new ideas.

By the time he left the bank, one of his proudest achievements was his highly engaged team, which he accredits to several key management principles: providing feedback on performance and long-run career trajectory with directness and genuine care for the individual, having high expectations and giving room to rise to them, encouraging upward feedback, surrounding oneself with different backgrounds and personalities, and always being your true self.

Successful organizations over the long run will be ones that can mix evolutionary thinking with revolutionary thinking. Accomplishing this mix requires a deep understanding of the competition, a culture and reward system, a focus on foundational investments, and adapting work toward long-term thinking.

Kirk sees massive changes ahead for commercial banking. He recognizes that it’s a market where the basis of competition hasn’t been about scale though believes that scale competitors can now outcompete on the basis of deeper expertise and better solutions. As a result, share will consolidate to at-scale banks and nonbank competitors.

We’re going to start seeing scale winners emerge in the commercial banking space by developing deep industry ecosystems, developing new technology-enabled products with consumer-like user experiences, and innovative funding models. Tens of billions of revenue will migrate between banks or even out of the banking system entirely.

Outside of consulting, Kirk is also a restaurateur responsible for starting four restaurants in Connecticut and New York with a chef business partner. He’s received the only 4-star New York Times review ever in Connecticut, got into the Michelin Guide, and his business partner/chef even beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay in his competition-style TV show. He looks forward to continuing to expand, perhaps to become multiregional. He lives in Connecticut with his clinical psychologist wife, son, and daughter. In his spare time, he is an avid amateur cyclist.