As Director General for UK Visas and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Passport Office, Mark Thomson is at the forefront of delivering government policy relating to those visiting and staying in the country.
Mark graduated from Dorset Institute of Higher Education (a forerunner to BU) in 1984, having studied the BA (Hons) Business Studies. Prior to taking up his current role in government, he enjoyed a near 30-year career with Royal Mail which included overseeing the organisation’s international expansion.
Mark said: “I joined Royal Mail in a sales role soon after leaving university, expecting to be there for a couple of years. I left three decades later have enjoyed roles in international marketing and strategy and having worked on key partnerships such as the Olympics.
“I took a much-delayed gap year before joining Her Majesty’s Passport Office at a time when they were reshaping the organisation with a greater emphasis on using digital technology.”
The organisations oversee around three million Visa applications a year and process around seven million passports, and are responsible for resettlement programmes for those seeking asylum in the UK. Mark said: “The work is fascinating and can be extremely rewarding. We have enabled 15,000 Syrian refugees to make their homes in the UK which I am immensely proud of. I enjoy the process of working with Ministers, providing advice and briefings which will translate into changes in national policy.”
Mark’s connection with Bournemouth was rekindled when his own son, Sam, enrolled to study psychology at BU in 2014. He said: “It was one of those circle of life moments. Dropping Sam off to start his course, all the emotions I experienced myself as a new student came flooding back. While the situation was similar, the surrounding environment was very different. Bournemouth University has changed considerably over the years and the campus facilities have come a long way.”
As a senior leader, Mark is now in a position to coach and mentor others. His advice to today’s graduates is to stay focused but not get too hung up on what the future holds. He said: “Career paths are rarely linear. I had no idea when I left university that I would go on to work in the roles I have and today’s graduates are likely to take on many more roles in their lifetime. No experience is wasted and even jobs that you don’t enjoy will develop your capabilities. When it comes to making the most of your university experience, stay on top of things but don’t get too fixated on needing to have a clear plan for the future. Part of the journey is about exploring what you do and don’t want to do.”