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Andrew Benson

Director for Enterprise Technology, Primark

1Why were you attracted to Berkeley?

Prior to Berkeley, I was at a very corporate firm – one of the Big 4. When I looked around me, I thought, if I stay here, my focus will be on account management and sales, rather than doing a great job, building relationships and working on interesting projects. The firm also wanted me to focus on an increasingly specialised area, which I was reluctant to do.

I had started going through the directorship process, and wasn’t actually looking for a new job, when I discovered Berkeley. The way Berkeley was described didn’t sound like a real place that could actually exist!

I really liked the model, which provides senior support to deliver the best value to clients, rather than deploying junior teams. The focus is on the client work and the people – building good well-rounded consultants – which was really refreshing.

2What did you enjoy most about working at Berkeley?

The people, themselves. It’s a smaller firm, where you can get to know everybody.

This was really apparent in the way that partner-consultant relationships worked. The Berkeley coaching model is very much a two-way listening process. I really appreciated the respect that partners have for consultants, and that they know and trust their experience.

The work that I did at Berkeley always involved great projects, where I was able to work at the top level and make a difference, including some big challenging programmes at Primark, British Sugar and Travis Perkins. It was fantastic to go in as part of a small team or as an individual to lead and make a high impact, rather than as part of a pyramid.

3Where did you go after Berkeley?

Working at Primark as a Berkeley consultant, there was a great opportunity to take up the interim director role on the technology leadership team, running the enterprise product domain. In that role, I was responsible for all enterprise technology, including systems for finance, HR, procurement, legal, and corporate affairs. As it was a newly created area following a reorganisation, I was able to interview and build my top level team, and establish our ways of working. It was a unique opportunity to make a difference at the very beginning of that business area.

Primark then offered me the role on a permanent basis, allowing me to lead the team that I hand-picked. I’d be joining a business with big growth ambitions, the potential for lots of change, and the opportunity to support the leadership.

I hadn’t been looking to leave Berkeley, but this role opened my eyes to a new direction for my career. It was a great opportunity – one that couldn’t be missed – and Berkeley really supported me in my decision to take the role.

4What did you learn during your time with Berkeley that you found most helpful for the next phase of your career?

One of the most valuable experiences was around engaging and building relationships, particularly with C-suite-level senior executives. I also worked across programmes involving lots of suppliers, and learnt to manage those relationships at the top level.

I also learnt a lot about turning around programmes that are in trouble, and gained a lot of confidence from working on challenging programmes.

In the six-month period in the Primark interim role, I continued to receive coaching from my Berkeley partner so that moving into the permanent role felt seamless. It made the journey into industry much easier, where I could take and apply all the lessons I learned from consultancy.