He served as Prime Minister of Bhutan from April 2008 until July 2013. Thinley received a graduate degree from The Pennsylvania State University. In 1992 he became secretary of the Ministry of home Affairs, and was subsequently appointed as Deputy Minister of home Affairs in January 1994. Later that year he was appointed as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. He was Prime Minister twice prior to the beginning of democracy in Bhutan, first from July 1998 to July 1999, and again from August 2003 to August 2004. In 2009 Thinley became a member of the SNV Netherlands Development Organization’s International Advisory Board, contributing his experience to the organization’s goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development. He stressed the need to focus on the Bhutanese notion of “gross national happiness” rather than purely economic decision making. In 2014, Thinley received an honorary degree from Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium.