“I was smart enough to be lazy”: Oliver Förster, co-founder of meliorate, tells it’s never late to change life
How Oliver realized he wanted to make contribution with the most effective tool – Asset Management
PRE-FACE. After a month of vacation, I am delighted to announce that I’m finally back to work! Numerous captivating articles are waiting to be published. Now, you have opportunity to read about one of meliorate’s co-founders. The person, who impressed me with his diligence and honor. Hope you enjoy Oliver’s lifestory as much as I did during our conversation.
Oliver Förster is a co-founder and managing director of meliorate. His professional life was full of ups and downs, and he did not realize his destiny until his mid-twenties. Oliver gave an example to new generations and experienced that it is never late to change life approaches and contribute to the world with the thing you are into.
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family shaped Oliver’s intentions and views on life. It was in the family’s bloodline to create business and make it their life. Oliver’s grandfather and father ran their own businesses, so no wonder Oliver eventually inherited family perspectives on work. “Running small businesses was always some kind of family tradition,” meliorate’s co-founder shares about how their company’s life always becomes family life.
Förster always had multiple ideas about his professional life, but the one that possessed his mind for a long time. Oliver always dreamed about becoming an architect in his childhood; he realized that not having a drawing talent was a huge obstacle. Thus, he had to give up his biggest dream to focus on an accessible career, but the one he would love as well. Money management and Economics were the things that future meliorate’s co-founder believed to be society’s basis.
From Oliver’s perspective, studying the economy was one of his best decisions. “I didn’t study management because economy provides a wider picture, which I always dreamt of,” Förster adds to why he chose this field. Economics taught him how we, as a society, design our lives. Eventually, Oliver stopped on microeconomics to explore people’s motivations to work and alter the way we live. On the one hand, he learned how to exploit laws and news; on the other hand, it was about how morals of society and business are formed.
However, future meliorate’s co-founder was especially gifted in his adolescence and early adulthood. “You need to be smart to be lazy,” and that’s what Oliver was until his 25s. He did not have challenges in school or university that would require additional effort. Hence, only the mid-twenties became the time when Förster realized he could change the world. He has always been interested in society, but Oliver gained the insight he is a part of it and can develop it. He believed it was too late, but hey. Better late is better than never, isn’t it?
Although a family of entrepreneurs brought up Oliver, running his own business was never his priority. He confessed that his biggest regret is not starting a business earlier with all his ideas. But also, Förster says he would become a father earlier. “These are the things you should never wait about because they are our lives eventually.” Having four children, two biological kids, and two companies, is a great responsibility, but he does not want to be cynical about his children. It is simply how Oliver was brought up when he had to share his father’s and grandfather’s love with their companies.
The story-changing moment was Oliver’s first job in consulting in the first consulting company founded in 1886. It was a good and exciting job, but he did not have a mission, which is essential to have directions for future development. Now, as Förster looks at a situation from another viewpoint, he considers that looking for a mission is worth taking this time. Oliver believes that his complete mission was not ready until his 40s, but these years were productive for him and his clients.
The experience of working at this consultancy was the base for meliorate’s foundation. Oliver was impressed that despite the consultancy’s scopes, it was a very individual company with people as a priority. meliorate is close to this idea of individualization and not an assimilation of everybody. Consulting is about personality first, so you must be self-conscientious before entering it. “This process is not straightforward; it’s full of ups and downs,” which is why Förster is satisfied with each worker’s highly developed personal skills.
Moreover, Oliver had a chance to meet his future partner and friend in this consultancy, Lars Overdiek. Since that time, they have been switching workplaces together. “That’s a huge gift to find somebody with the same values and background,” Förster says about how they understood each other from halfword. Although they are entirely different, they are highly complementary in work.
The milestone that changed Oliver in a professional and personal way was his project in Romania. When we talked, I was impressed by how he was passionate about his contribution to the development of a post-communism country. When I asked Oliver about his Romanian project, he answered that our one-hour interview was not enough to describe all his impressions of it. The project was held between 2006-2010, which point was to restructure the second biggest company in Romania. It was a huge event that the media covered, and Oliver was excited about it. He met inspiring colleagues and obtained a place he wanted to return to over and over. Förster finds one thing especially significant about this project – providing people with opportunities. “People, whom the Communist party dictated, now have choices and freedom” was the reason why Oliver was so enthusiastic about the project.
Another essential aspect of the future meliorate co-founder is his personal life and especially his children. In our conversation, Oliver speaks warmly and boldly about his children’s future. He wishes their children decide to inherit entrepreneurial ideas not because he believes it’s right. “Developing and growing a known idea is the most interesting thing you can do,” Förster wishes his children could experience these unique feelings. He provides his children with all the resources so that they become remarkable society representatives and change it positively.
Even though Oliver does not believe in the ‘work-life balance’ approach because a career is his life, outside the work, he devotes time to his children and interests. “I have intense relationships with my kids and try my best to maintain it,” Förster shares the second most considerable part of his life. On the other hand, Oliver follows his interests in infrastructure, architecture, history, and politics. Also, he’s into cooking, which is another reason he liked Romania. Förster believes Romanian cuisine is just more sophisticated and traditional. He enjoys eating what people used to eat 100 years ago. In addition, Oliver is a massive fan of the ‘Narcos’ Netflix show. Specifically, the reason is that the main character builds a family business through complex leadership and changes the world to some extent. Overall, our conversation with Oliver was so insightful and tense, which gave me food for thought. It was a very concise retelling of his professional life up to the current point. Another part of our interview will be our discussion towards future of asset management and infrastructure. Here, Oliver will clarify his attitudes gained through arduous work and provide directions for beginners in consulting and asset management.
Also may interest you: MONTH IN MELIORATE: WHAT CHANGED?