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Michael Owen

Partner, UK

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Michael Owen

Partner, UK

Connect on Linkedin

1 What’s different about Berkeley for our clients? 

It’s a question I get asked a lot in the business development aspect of my job - “Why Berkeley?”. There are lots of things we bring that all consulting firms will also say they bring – experience, methods, drive, organisation, insight. I think for our clients – and you should ask them not me – the main difference is our sole focus on doing the right thing for them, not for ourselves.

All too often we find consulting firms put their own interests ahead those of the client; they avoid the really knotty issues; they hide behind engagement letters; they get most excited about selling more work. We just don’t approach the world like that. We’ve designed our business so we can be trusted to act in the long-term interests of our clients. For example, none of us at Berkeley, the partners included, have individual sales targets. We reward our people based on the quality of what they do, not what they sell.

The other big difference is our specialism is operating across many specialisms. We span the strategy to delivery lifecycle and can bridge multiple disciplines. Most other consultancies deploy deep specialists, which in many cases is exactly what’s needed. But when our clients have a knotty challenge often with ambiguous boundaries and need to think across many drivers and constraints, that’s our sweet spot.


2 What’s the most important thing you learned at Berkeley?

The most important thing I’ve learnt at Berkeley is that it’s basically all about great people. If I look back across all the assignments I’ve been involved in, it’s the quality of the people that’s been the biggest driver of success. Yes, there are methods and tools. Yes, there are templates. Yes, there is governance. But it’s people and how they work together that gets things done. Whether it’s being a member of a team or leading a team the number one focus always needs to be on the quality of the people you’re working with. Closely related is creating an environment in which people can be their best. I’ve seen a small number of brilliant people do amazing things.

Do they have the right skills for the job? Do they want to develop and listen? Are they self-aware enough to give and take feedback in a constructive way? Do they put the team before themselves? Can they keep calm when things get heated?

You can go a long way with great people.

3 What might people be interested in knowing about you?

Outside of work I’m a bit of a DIY geek. Over the years I’ve had a go at most things around the house, with one or two things taking a bit longer than they should! I’ll try pretty much anything apart from meddling with gas and going up-stream of the consumer unit.

I’ve amassed a range of power tools, my favourite being a Festool Rail Saw – pure engineering beauty for cutting perfectly straight lines in sheet materials (is that geeky enough for you?) Sadly, I barely have the time to do much DIY but the various trades people we use really love it when I quiz them about what they’re doing or I take an unhealthy interest in their power tools. In procurement it’s called being an intelligent buyer – I’m sure that’s what the trades people mutter under their breath!

My most recent powertool purchase was a bench pillar drill, with laser guide, which is great. I’ve been toying with whether to buy a new compound mitre saw but I probably need a new flooring project to justify the investment.

All a far cry from the day job world of PowerPoint, Zooms and Outlook!