So you want to be a reward director?

Written by
Changeboard Team

25 Oct 2010

25 Oct 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Reward specialists in demand post-recession

The role of head of reward is always very popular, but has been significantly more so post-recession. As general pay levels across the board have been fairly static recently, businesses have had to become more creative about how they reward their people - which has made this an interesting area to work in. And as reward specialists with these skills have become more valued, their pay has increased.

One common myth about reward is that it's a backroom, non-client facing role where you’ll just be dealing with technical systems. This is not the case at all, as reward specialists are viewed as integral part of HR and the business as a whole. Consequently, reward specialists need good communication and ‘soft’ skills as well as a strong numeric ability. They also need to show a real flair for the more technical aspects of HR, with strong excel and HR systems knowledge.

What does it take to become a reward director?

Heads of reward generally come from three different types of background. They will either:

- Start as generalists and then specialise in reward
- Progress all the way up the reward ladder
- Start in HR payroll or systems but show an acumen for strategy and policy

To be successful when applying for a head of reward role, you will need to demonstrate a blend of commercial and technical nous, excellent reward knowledge and the ability to communicate with internal clients.

What's the role of the reward director?

The role of reward director varies according to the organisation concerned, with much dependent on the perception of reward within the business. Broadly speaking, you are responsible for developing new reward strategies. Where pay is a key consideration - especially in professional and financial services and in the public sector - the head of reward can sit on the main board. Being involved in the upper echelons of HR and the wider business can obviously be great for your career.

You will also lead a team, although how big this will be depends on the size of the organisation and complexity of the reward structures in place. Some big retail banks have reward teams of up to 80, while smaller organisations have more modest reward teams - in these cases, the head of reward role tends to be a lot more hands on.

Reward director: role specification

Example job specification

Role: Global Director of Compensation

Salary: £100,000 + Bonus + Benefits
Job description: As the Director of Compensation, you will be responsible for providing expertise and strategic global compensation leadership in the EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the US regions.  You will be expected to develop strong working relationships within the HR division and with internal corporate and executive leaders. You will also partner with HR Business Partners to communicate and implement company-wide reward programmes.

The successful candidate will have extensive experience of: international compensation practices in EMEA, Asia-Pacific and the US; design and administration of executive compensation programmes; SAP; and advanced Microsoft excel skills. You will also have excellent written and verbal communication skills and experience of speaking publicly to large audiences.