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Mark Thirlwell

Managing Director, Artificial Intelligence Regulatory Services, British Standards Institution

1Why did you join Berkeley?

At my previous consultancy, I’d reached a point where I was growing ‘famous’ for a certain type of work, and I was starting to be pigeonholed. Joining Berkeley meant that I had an opportunity to do a wider variety of work.

I also liked the idea of just focusing on client work, rather than box-ticking, hitting arbitrary targets, or having to jump through the next hoop. I wanted to be assessed by the quality of my consulting work, and the impact I had with my clients.

2What did you enjoy most about working at Berkeley?

I could be completely autonomous, focusing on doing the best job I could for the client and using my own judgement over how to achieve that.

I've enjoyed the types of clients I've worked with and the scale of the challenges, which included the opportunity to work on critical national infrastructure. Frequent access to the C-suite gave me experience of senior-level conversations.

Finally, I know it's a clich√© but the people at Berkeley were one of the key highlights. We genuinely got along, and I’ve made some life-long friends.

3Where did you go after Berkeley?

I joined the British Standards Institution (BSI) to become Managing Director of AI Regulatory Services. My role involves setting up a new business unit from scratch to oversee the fair and ethical use of AI in high-risk products, such as medical devices.

As a Berkeley consultant, I had taken on the role in an interim capacity and had really enjoyed being able to own an area of business and lead a team. I am also passionate about the subject of AI, and how it can help solve society’s most pressing challenges, such as sustainability. However, AI needs to be properly regulated to do so.

The opportunity arose to apply for the permanent, full-time role, which was an opportunity too good to miss. Berkeley was very supportive of the move.

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

Berkeley always trusted my opinion and encouraged me to share my perspective with senior clients, which has given me confidence in myself and my sense of judgement.

This includes confidence in what I don't know as much as what I do know. If something isn't in my area of expertise, I know when I need to find someone who does know the answer and to work together with them.

I know to focus on my strengths, rather than working to pre-conceived notions of what is required. Trying to fight against my natural style doesn't work. I know I’ll apply this lesson to my management and leadership style too, as I grow and establish my team.