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Human Resource Summit Speakers

Rewards & Benefits Summit - Speakers

The Strategy Group programme is made up of 7 discussion-based seminars and facilitated by leading HR and Reward & Benefits experts. The sessions are an opportunity for delegates to catch up on some of the latest thinking and exchange ideas and best practice with their counterparts in other major organisations.

Two weeks before the event, delegates are asked to choose the groups which interest them most; it will normally be possible to attend up to 4 groups during the course of the Summit. The 2018 programme is currently in development and will be finalised by late autumn.

See below the speakers and sessions from our most recent Summit which took place May 2017 in Barcelona. Please contact for more information about speaking opportunities and topic suggestions.

2018 Rewards & Benefits Summit speakers - more sessions to be announced soon!

John Timpson CBE

The people who matter most

John Timpson CBE - Chairman, Timpson Ltd


For over 20 years John has been running his business 'upside down' with front line colleagues trusted with the freedom to do their job in the way they know best. Experience shows that his system works best when the company recruits the right people so it makes sense to cherish the star performer by giving praise and rewards in an innovative way.

The Timpson guide to Benefits and Rewards isn't a process, it is guided by the company culture, which believes that the best praise comes as a surprise and is tailored to each individual colleague.

The company takes little notice of budgets, doesn't have an appraisal system, hasn't written a management structure and doesn't believe in wage and salary scales, colleagues feel secure because they are allowed to act as individuals.

Be prepared to visit a different world where managers, who are not allowed to issue others, spend most of their time looking after the members of their team. It is a common sense mixture of a modern approach with old fashioned values which still puts a premium on personal hands on leadership and a hand written letter.


The Timpson family business, founded by John’s great grandfather in the 1860’s, was taken over in 1973, but 10 years later John led a £42m management buyout. In 1987 he sold the shoe shops and concentrated on building the shoe repairing and key cutting business, which has diversified into engraving, watch repairs, dry cleaning and photo processing.

Timpson now has nearly 1900 branches nationwide, including the Max Spielmann and Snappy Snaps brands and a successful Timpson Locksmiths business. The Group has a turnover of over £200m and profits of over £20m. It is a private business wholly owned by John Timpson and his family. Timpson is recognised for its creative approach to employee engagement and innovative work helping ex-offenders – it is the UK’s most active employer of people from prison.

Recently widowed, John Timpson was married to his wife Alex for 47 years. He has five children Victoria (48), James (45), Edward (43), together with Oliver (41) and Henry (29).

John and his wife were also foster carers for 31 years, during which time they fostered 90 children.

In 2000 he wrote ‘Dear James,’ which passes on to his son James, now Timpson’s CEO, the lessons learned in 25 years as a Chief Executive. A management maverick, he describes his business philosophy in ‘How to Ride a Giraffe’, ‘Upside Down Management’ and ‘Ask John’. ‘High Street Heroes’ was published in 2015 and ‘Under Orders’ is the diary of a racehorse owners’ husband. His latest book, ‘Keys to Success’ gives 50 tips from a management maverick.

He has a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.

In 2004 he was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours List for Services to the Retail Sector.

John Beadle

Supporting inclusion and diversity through employee benefit programmes

John Beadle - Head of Performance and Reward, Rio Tinto

This session will explore ways in which global employee benefit programmes can support inclusion and diversity.

The session will include a special focus on the way Rio Tinto has designed and implemented a Global minimum paid parental leave standard to primary and secondary caregivers following a birth or adoption of a child.

The programme, which is being applied across its major countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, UK and the USA, applies equally to single parents and employees in same sex relationships, and is deliberately gender neutral to ensure whichever parent assumes the primary duties of caring for the infant will be eligible.

It will discuss the obstacles and issues that have been encountered, the positive responses from employees taking paid parental leave who can focus on family duties knowing their job will be protected while they’re away, and the impact on external employee branding.

It will also touch on the implementation of the ‘White Ribbon’ programme which is designed to support employees involved in domestic violence.


John has been Head of Performance and Reward at Rio Tinto since 2011. His portfolio includes performance management, board and executive reward, employee reward (e.g. grading, variable pay, share incentive planning), benefits, international mobility and HRIT. 

He has over twenty years experience in reward and human resource management in the financial, consumer goods, information technology and pharmaceutical industries, working in the UK, US, Europe and Asia. He has previously worked in a variety of international HR roles in GSK, HSBC, IBM, Reckitt Benckiser and Standard Chartered Bank.

He is a former Vice President, Reward for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and made a Companion of the Institute in 2010. He is also a Fellow of the Bridewell Royal Hospital

Adrian Furnham

The Psychology of Money

Adrian Furnham - Professor of Psychology, University College London & the Norwegian School of Management


Psychologists are interested in many aspects of money from the design of coinage to understanding how and when children understand economic concepts.

This session will concentrate on three themes. First, I will examine the role of money as a motivator at work. This will explore the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

There are many paradoxes in this story which suggests that money can actually de-motivate people at work.

The second theme is concerned with how people think about their money and why they seem so illogical (psych-logical) when making money decisions about saving, spending etc. I will explore four themes:

Money being associated with security, power, love and freedom. The third theme concerns the recent research on behavioural economics and how people can be persuaded to make decisions based on the way they are presented with information.


Adrian Furnham was educated at the LSE and at Oxford University. He is Professor of Psychology at University College London and the Norwegian School of Management. He has written over 1200 scientific papers and 86 books. Like Noel Coward, he believes work is more fun than fun and considers himself to be a recovering workaholic.

Mark Kendall

Designing an Effective Bonus Plan – What Works and Doesn’t Work: A Case Study

Mark Kendall - VP, Compensation & Benefits, DSC UKI, NHSSC & CDO, DHL Supply Chain


Many organisations are searching for the “holy grail” of the ideal incentive plan design. What do you do if your starting point is not a blank piece of paper but 60 separate plans based in countries which range from mature to emerging markets. How do you find a structure which satisfies a variety of diverse, and sometimes conflicting, objectives? This session will focus on one organisation’s approach to global alignment in designing an annual bonus plan, identifying design criteria and choices faced, and the lessons learnt along the way. As a global plan, it was essential for us that we achieved global alignment while retaining local market relevance.

In addition, the session will get back to basics and remind us what behavioural economics has found out about what really motivates, and how this is often at odds with common practice. It will question the “sheep mentality” of so much market practice and suggest what we should really be focusing on.


Mark is currently VP, Compensation & Benefits for the UKI Region, NHS business and global sectors within DP DHL’s Supply Chain Division. DP DHL is one of the world’s largest Companies, employing some 500,000 people around the globe with revenues of c.€60bn. The Supply Chain business within the UK employs around 40,000 people.

Responsibilities include all elements of reward for the businesses he supports, with day to day activities including grading, pay, incentives, and benefits.

The majority of Mark’s career has been spent in the Reward area, in Retail, Telecommunications and consultancy.

Mark has spoken at various conferences in the UK and Europe, has had articles published on such subjects as job evaluation and company cars, and helped to develop and deliver a series of public seminars on pay strategy, design and management for GRO, a former global offshoot of the American World at Work organisation.

Cayla Kitayama

The future of health and well-being

Cayla Kitayama - EMEA Benefits, Google


“Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year [1]. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week [2].” (Mind UK)

Employers can play a significant role in providing support and resources for their employees, and families, mental health and overall wellbeing.

Today, many employees now consider well-being a core benefit, much like medical or pension. Well-being programs and initiatives within the workplace are becoming increasingly common. But, what does “well-being” actually mean?

In this session, we’ll discuss the programs that fall within the wide umbrella of well-being. Then, we’ll share some of the initiatives Google has implemented, their approach and key learnings. Lastly we’ll discuss why providing mental health and well-being support is critical and what you can do today to improve conditions for your employees.


Cayla manages benefits for Google across EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa, which includes benefits for employees in the United Kingdom, the largest office outside of the US). She also works on expanding life insurance programs and financial fitness initiatives across Europe and Africa. In addition to benefits, Cayla volunteers as a member of the team and is an active member with Womens@ an employee resource group for female employees. She’s been at Google for nearly 8 years and worked in many teams in People Operations in the US, Singapore and now the UK. Prior to Google, Cayla was an international 3-Day Event rider and has a degree from Villanova University, in Pennsylvania.

Fiona McIver

Thinking Global – Acting Local

Fiona McIver - Reward & HRIS Director, Engie UK


“Thinking globally, acting locally” a phrase attributed variously to town planning, environmentalism and theology, can have a tremendous impact in the business sphere too. In a world that’s becoming increasingly interconnected, how much value can you actually gain from embracing a “one size fits all” reward philosophy? Whether it’s rolling out a new senior level bonus plan, updating the company grading structure or looking into tax efficient worldwide share plans, the ability to translate a global vision to an understandable and valuable local plan is a necessary one, and can be a difficult path to navigate.

In this interactive session Fiona McIver will share her experience of rolling out global reward programs, looking at the key factors needed for successful implementation as well as the most common reasons that schemes fail.


Fiona is currently the Reward & HRIS Director for Engie in the UK, with a remit that includes Fleet and a population of c. 14,000 employees. Prior to that she spent 5 years as the Global Compensation & Benefits Manager for Engie working extensively in North and South America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. Her career has always focused on Reward and includes stints as a consultant and Head of Reward for a FTSE 250. She has lived through more mergers and reorganisations than is considered healthy.

Debra Searle

Forget willpower - ocean lessons in choosing your own attitude!

Debra Searle MVO, MBE - opening keynote

At the Summit Debra will share her amazing personal story of rowing the Atlantic and the highs and lows of spending 3 ½ months alone at sea.  More than just an inspiring storyteller, Debra leaves her audiences with practical and actionable golden nuggets for work and life success.  In her own unassuming way Debra has a message to share - that we should all aim to be Attitudists  - relying less on skill and more on attitude, while not letting anyone or anything (particularly one’s self) halt forward motion.  She’s confident this approach works as she has used it to grow four businesses and it has taken her from school failure to Royal Family regular.


Debra is a truly inspirational woman. A professional adventurer, author, BBC presenter and gender equality advocate, Debra first hit the headlines when she set out to row across the Atlantic with her husband. Unfortunately he had to be rescued so Debra, a novice rower, continued alone and rowed 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados. It should have taken them six weeks but, to achieve her goal, Debra ended up spending 3 ½ months at sea alone, encountering 30' waves, sharks, and force 8 squalls in her 23 foot plywood boat.

Debra’s recent expeditions have included sailing around Antarctica, racing in the Monte Carlo Rally in a 1957 Alfa Romeo, various L’Etape du Tours, The Vogalonga in Venice, and becoming the first Briton to complete the gruelling Yukon River Quest with good friend Bruce Parry. She went on to lead a group of women known as The Sisterhood to a new World Record for Dragon Boating across the English Channel. This particular adventure created huge media interest in the UK due to a rather famous teammate – Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge.

Despite poor performance at school, Debra found a way to tap into her potential and graduated from university with 1st Class Honours, founded her first company, a dot-com, at the age of 23 and second at 27. She is a published author, newspaper feature writer and has represented Great Britain at European Championship level.

Debra is a regular presenter for the BBC, with credits including Grandstand, Extreme Lives, and Builders, Sweat and Tears.

Debra’s spirit of adventure gained her an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen and she was delighted to be appointed a trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in 2003, the youngest and only female trustee working alongside His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex. Debra has been appointed Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) for her services to the Award.

In Spring 2015, Debra and her company combined her two passions for adventure and gender equality by organising and leading an all-female team on an expedition in the Arctic Circle.

See Debra in action here

Matt Austin

In the pursuit of youth…are we missing something?

Matt Austin - Reward & Operations Director, Dyson

Interns, apprentices, graduates, millennials, and generation whatever…we talk a lot about how to attract these groups of people to join us. With the increase in portfolio careers and the gig economy we don’t know how long they will stay with us, nevertheless we define our recruitment campaigns, shape our employer brand and tailor our reward proposition – all in the pursuit of youth. Whilst it absolutely makes sense – there is a shortage of new talent – should we also now be looking more broadly across the talent pool?

Matt’s thought-provoking interactive session considers the evolving trends at the other end of the labour market – people are living longer, some needing to work longer because of pension shortfalls, some wanting to work longer to maintain a sense of purpose. Everything points towards an increasing supply of people in their 60s, 70s and beyond who could make a valuable contribution in the workplace. They’ll have different perspectives on what they want and need from their employer and if we focus all our energies on the pursuit of youth we could be missing out. Should Robert De Niro’s experience in The Intern become more of a reality rather than an entertaining exception?


Matt’s currently responsible for reward and HR operations across Dyson’s 23 global locations – since he joined Dyson in 2012 the company has grown from 3,000 to over 7,500 people.  Prior to Dyson Matt’s roles include a range of reward and HR generalist in-house roles at Clarks, the Royal Bank of Scotland and BAE Systems where he spent over two years in the Middle East.  He has also worked in an HR and employee benefits consultancy, which took him to such far flung places as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kazakhstan.

Claire Braybrooke-Gibbens

Implementing a Health & Wellbeing Strategy – without breaking the budget!

Claire Braybrooke-Gibbens - Reward Manager, Berwin Leighton Paisner

Why should we implement a health & wellbeing strategy, what should it look like? What makes a successful one? Where do you start if you don’t have a lot of budget? All valid questions and the answers we will aim to cover during this session. Before you even think about the return on investment, look at what you are currently providing: is it well advertised, is it varied enough for the demographic? By ensuring that communications are clear and concise and cater to your demographic, this leads into building a framework for communication, for example operating a stranded approach to give employees ‘branches’ to link with.

Secondly, it’s about building relationships with your vendors, ensuring you are getting the maximum value from what you have contracted for. Join me in this session, where I will share some hints and tips to build your health & wellbeing strategy, without upsetting the Finance Director!

Comment on our winning entry for HR in Law 'Best Health & Wellbeing strategy' included that they were impressed with how much we did for so little cost; it really is possible!

With a career of over fifteen years in Human Resources, Claire has a wealth of experience in a wide range of sectors, including international law firms, a global property company and a top 5 ranked international university. Through this varied experience Claire has been able to determine the key formula for a successful health and wellbeing strategy which culminated in her last firm winning 2016 HR in Law 'Best Health & Wellbeing Strategy'.


Bridget Donoghue

Please don’t sacrifice our benefits!

Bridget Donoghue - Head of HR, Nottingham City Council

Since 2005, Nottingham City Council has been running an Employee Voluntary Benefit Scheme – “Works Perks”. Our award winning scheme offers a leading range of voluntary benefits enabling substantial savings for our employees through discounts and salary sacrifice schemes.

Like most public sector organisations, Nottingham City Council is operating under austerity measures – in particular constraints on public sector salaries. However, we still need to be able to compete in the market place and to attract and retain the right workforce for us to succeed.

74% of our 7,000 employees regularly access “Works Perks”, and the scheme’s diverse range of offers is strategically linked to the Council's values and business objectives – for instance, championing green and sustainable travel and allowing employees to gain professional development through “Learning Plus”.

As well as ensuring we are offering our valued employees something real and tangible – to help stretch the pound in their pocket, we have also strategically linked the use of salary sacrifice to our financial planning process. Through our current offer of schemes, we have generated over £2.5 million in savings in the last 5 years. This has meant we can mitigate the need for job losses in the workforce and has saved the equivalent of 96 jobs. Clearly the recent shift in direction for tax benefits will have devastating consequences for us as well as many other employers and employees.

The session will share the journey Nottingham has been on to create our award winning Voluntary Benefits plan and to discuss the challenges the recent Government announcements will bring. 

In a career spanning 27 years in Local Government, Bridget has witnessed first-hand the changing face of public sector services and the need to operate far more commercially than ever before.  Her focus and determination is that HR should not merely operate as a ‘support service’ but an enabler of business.  Having just led a project to deliver a new Pay and Reward model for the workforce, Bridget is acutely aware of the contribution benefits play to the wellbeing and retention of employees and is proud of the achievements of the long standing Works Perks offer and the small team that deliver it.  The salary sacrifice scheme particularly is ‘win-win-win!’ – employees save money, the Council saves jobs, which in turn means citizens benefit from vital services.

Roger Fairhead

Pensions (are not the answer)

Roger Fairhead - VP People Intergration, AB inBev


Most companies offer their employees the opportunity to participate in a pension plan, yet most employees are completely disengaged by pensions.  Pensions can be complex, confusing, burdensome, inflexible, expensive, and give comparatively poor returns.  Yet many employers (and governments) continue to waste money forcing employees into these archaic savings plans.

There are alternatives to pension savings that can be more appropriate, more flexible, and provide better returns for employees.  Share plans, corporate ISAs and non-tax advantaged investment plans can be used very effectively to augment or replace employee pension savings, with better returns over a range of more flexible timescales.  However, other investment vehicles are rarely offered to employees as an alternative to pension savings, and it is even rarer for pensions and other investments to be available on the same platform for employees to compare, contrast, or choose how best to invest their money. 

In this deliberately provocative session, Roger Fairhead will share some research revealing the differing financial priorities of employees, and show how pension alone fails to satisfy the needs of many.  Furthermore, by analysing the outcomes for pension and other investment vehicles under the same financial performance scenarios, the session will identify the clear winners and losers, and perhaps in the process reveal an alternative future for employee workplace savings.

Roger Fairhead was Group Compensation & Benefits Director at SABMiller plc from April 2011 until their acquisition by AB InBev in October 2016, and is now VP People Integration for AB InBev.  He is responsible for the people blueprint (organisation design), people costs, target setting, performance management and rewards for the integrated businesses, and is also a trustee of the UK and International pension plans. Originally qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and then specialising in tax with Ernst & Young in London, Roger has since held a number of roles with leading international corporations including Prudential, Sony, BBC, Rank Group, and Universal Music Group.

Ian Hodson

Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace – The next generation

Ian Hodson - Head of Reward, University of Lincoln

This session will focus on a case study looking at the highs and lows of introducing a financial education programme in the workplace and how best to ensure that it becomes embedded as part of a rounded wellbeing programme. The University of Lincoln first introduced their financial education programme as part of their response to auto enrolment where the challenge was not getting employees to be in a pension scheme but more ensuring that they understand all financial matters and can be “savvy savers” with financial plans that will support their life plans.

The session will also focus on looking at the award winning student programme “Financial Fairytales” and build on the knowledge students have received as part of their secondary school education. The programme identifies the financial position of those individuals that will be entering the workplace in the next few years and can help inform employers to the kind of reward and support that they will be looking for and also need when looking for employers to start their careers.

The session will also look at the changing workplace demographics and the transition to embed financial education in-to staff personal development plans as part of their lifelong learning and how identifying an engaging approach for each audience may be the key to success.


Ian is the Head of Reward at the University of Lincoln overseeing all aspects of reward including payroll, pensions, employee benefits and executive remuneration. Having started his career in finance before moving specifically in to pay and benefits Ian has a background in both the public and private sector having previously worked for Moy Park, Mars, Prudential and Lincolnshire County Council.

A firm believer and champion in the importance of pay and benefits as a driver for change and in supporting organisational agendas Ian has previously overseen teams that have been acknowledged for their achievements at sector awards for pay and benefits. In 2014 Ian was chosen as the winner of the Pay and Benefits Career Accomplishment Award and the University won the Grand Prix prize at the 2016 Employee Benefit awards for their “Financial Fairy tales” student worker financial education programme.


Helen Jenks

Equal pay in the modern day

Helen Jenks - Head of Reward, Bank of England

There has been much discussion about the new gender pay gap reporting requirements and what this will mean for employers. The Bank of England’s inclusion strategy is clear on the need for diversity in the organisation to reflect the society we serve, enable us to make better decisions and avoid unconscious bias and group think. There are also stretching targets around this including representation of women in the Bank (35% at senior levels and 50% at levels below this by 2020) and regular reporting of a range of diversity statistics. This session will focus on how the Bank is planning to integrate the new gender reporting requirements with its current reporting and also how workforce analytics are being used to look beyond the reporting requirements to identify where any real issues are and the strategies we may use to address them.


Helen is Head of Reward at the Bank of England and is responsible for all elements of reward across the Bank, as well as HRMI. Helen has spent her career specialising in reward and prior to joining the Bank in March 2016, has worked across different industries including oil & gas, utilties and retail. In spare time, Helen enjoys travelling to more remote parts of the world, preferably somewhere in the mountains with recent expeditions, including North Korea and Afghanistan.  

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