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Head of reward at SUEZ : “This sector is now seen as on a par with finance”

Ahead of the Autumn Update 2019, Michelle Sutton, head of compensation and reward at SUEZ, takes part in a short interview.

“This sector has far more prestige than it has in the past"
“This sector has far more prestige than it has in the past"

Sutton will be speaking at the conference, taking place on December 5th at the Hilton London Bankside.


Reward Strategy (RS): What has been the story of your career so far?
Michelle Sutton (MS): “I’ve been working in payroll since 1992. I started out as a payroll administrator for Tesco, then payroll supervisor and finally an assistant manager.


“In 2007 to 2008 I worked in an expatriate position with Tesco and off-shored the internal payroll audit and control team. I played a troubleshooting role once the transition was complete.


“I’ve since worked as payroll manger for a number of companies, including Catalent Pharma Solutions, Integreon, BodyShop, and head of payroll and benefits for Admiral Insurance Group.


“I’m now head of compensation and reward at SUEZ R&R (UK) and oversee the managers who lead the payroll, pensions and HR systems teams. Working in this industry is a lot of fun and very rewarding (pardon the pun)!”


RS: What do you think has been the most visible change to the reward and HR profession in the last year?

MS: I have seen an increased visibility around employee wellbeing, including the promotion of financial wellbeing. A lot of employers are now partnering with companies to offer employee ‘loan’ schemes.


“Personally, I would like to concentrate on employee financial wellbeing by promoting employer-run saving schemes and we have recently partnered with a company to offer this facility to our employees.


“It’s great being able to help an employee in a moment of financial crisis with quick access to loans at a much more competitive rate than those sometimes found on the high street. The primary focus, however, is to facilitate saving direct from the payslip, long before employees have banked and spent the money, whilst ensuring they’ve got access to their own funds when that unwanted emergency occurs.”


RS: What do you think are currently and will be the biggest trials facing reward professionals?

MS: The biggest trial for me personally is finding rewards to suit the majority of the workforce. We have a diverse workforce of almost 6,000 employees with different needs and desires, so it’s important that we know our workforce well enough to ensure we offer a wide ranging benefits package that they feel is relevant, whilst at the same time educating staff so they see the full potential these benefits offer.”


RS: What advice would you give the next generation joining the profession?

MS: If you want to work in a role where every day is different, where you have to utilise a wide range of skills and knowledge in order to overcome challenges - such as constantly changing legislation and new initiatives - payroll, pensions, reward and benefits is the industry for you.


“This sector has far more prestige than it has in the past, it is now seen as a specialist area on a par with other chartered functions such as finance and accountancy. One thing I can guarantee is you’ll never be bored, so join us - it’s fun!”


RS: Without giving too much away, what two things will delegates learn from your session?

MS: Delegates will learn what I’ve done to promote employee financial wellbeing and why I think it’s best to communicate, communicate, communicate.”


RS: What other sessions are you looking forward to at this year’s Autumn Update?

MS: “I’m looking forward to all the sessions, but if I had to choose two it would be the NMW Compliance session and the Policies on leave: Maternity vs. paternity session.”


The Rewards, sponsored by Cintra HR & Payroll Services, FMP Global and The Payroll Centre, take place the evening of the Autumn Update. Book your table now to get the best position.


Save £100 on conference tickets by booking before October 11th. Reach out to Jamie Thomas, from our delegates team, by calling 020 7940 4832 or email. Or, take a look at the event website here.


If you are interested in speaking opportunities or sponsorship, please speak to Ben Miller, commercial director, by calling 020 7940 4803 or email. Or, take a look at the media pack here.

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