Director for Enterprise Technology, Primark
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.
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.
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.
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.