Bairstow, who stepped down as head of Schal last year after leading clients said they had lost confidence in the company, will become a partner in the group’s property consultancy group.
Bairstow, who had been with Schal for 14 years, had earlier said he wanted to take up a more senior position within Schal’s parent company, Carillion.
However he told Building that the chance to work for Ernst & Young was a fantastic opportunity that he could not refuse.
He said: “I had a number of extremely interesting opportunities with Carillion and I have left on extremely amicable terms. It was a difficult decision, but I want a change. It’s a question of seeking new pastures.”
A spokesperson for Carillion said: “We discussed with Malcolm a number of senior appointments within Carillion, but at the same time he received an approach from Ernst & Young. We’re sorry to be losing him, but he felt that nothing suitable came up at Carillion.”
Bairstow said his role would be to build on the group’s construction-related consulting activities, as well developing new business opportunities.
Rod Oldham, head of Ernst & Young UK Real Estate Consulting, said: “This is a major coup for Ernst & Young as Malcolm is exceedingly well respected and has a high profile within the construction industry.”
Bairstow was in charge of Schal while it worked on the £220m refurbishment of the Royal Opera House, and the £140m conversion of Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern. Despite project difficulties, the opera house opened on time last December and the Tate is on schedule for its 12 May opening.