Interview with Jane Fenwick, associate director of total rewards at Shire Pharmaceuticals

Jane Fenwick, associate director of total rewards at Shire Pharmaceuticals, has helped transform the reward function in a succession of organisations and has also handled her own transition into working mum.

When Fenwick decided to join the world of work at the age of 18, she was unsure exactly what her vocational leanings might be.

“I had strong academic results, but I didn’t like living in the theoretical world,” she says. “I felt I would be better served going down an employment route. I’m happy with the way things have turned out.”

Fenwick wrote to several employers, and was soon offered a job as a section manager at House of Fraser, where she developed an interest in the role’s people aspect.

Next came a two-year generalist HR role with engineering firm Festo, before she became HR adviser, compensation and benefits at BHS. That started a trend for Fenwick to seek out opportunities with organisations undergoing a transformation.

First reward role

When she joined BHS, the store chain had just been bought by businessman Philip Green, and Fenwick was part of a team tasked with setting up a reward function from scratch. “It was a challenge because it was my first reward role, a different environment, and a much bigger organisation than I had been used to,” she says.

Next, Fenwick moved to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which had just been formed by the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. “It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of a huge change,” she says. “It wasn’t about taking the best of both worlds, which is often what happens with a merger. We created something completely new in most cases.”

Then came Cable and Wireless, which she joined the year after it acquired Energis. Again, the timing of her new role was fortuitous. “It was all about establishing new programmes, but not in the same way as at GSK,” she says. “We looked at both companies to see which did things better, and decided which option to take. There was a lot of work to really encourage the harmonisation of benefits and compensation programmes wherever possible.”

Fenwick’s next post was as international reward manager at Marks and Spencer, an organisation not usually considered transformational.

International growth

“When I joined, the focus was on international growth, and international reward is my area of specialty,” she says. “I was lucky enough to shape the reward strategy for that international business, including a new approach to global mobility, which reduced overall programme costs. It definitely proved a challenge. Again, it’s a very different culture, slightly more resistive to change.”

Fenwick joined Shire in February 2012. This time, the role marked a transitional period for herself. She was fresh from maternity leave, having given birth to her second child six months before. “That has been my biggest challenge at Shire, getting to grips with being back at work, being at a different organisation and learning the ropes,” she says.

With opportunities for flexible working and a supportive working environment, Fenwick managed the transition. “Shire is really good at being supportive of working parents,” she says. “I’m lucky to have a good manager who inspires me and keeps me sane. She is in a very similar situation. We share experiences and it helped me through the transition period. We actively encourage working parents to join Shire. For me, it is about culture and the attitude of the employer.”


Curriculum vitae

February 2012-present associate director, total rewards, Shire Pharmaceuticals

January 2008-February 2012 international reward manager, Marks and Spencer

April 2006-December 2007 reward manager, Europe, Asia and US, Cable and Wireless

February 2002-October 2005 compensation consultant, GlaxoSmithKline

October 2000-January 2002 HR adviser, compensation and benefits, BHS

January 1998-July 2000 generalist HR role, Festo


What are your hobbies?
I have two young children, so most of my non-working time is pretty much dedicated to them. If you have had a really stressful week and you come home to a toddler, that toddler can make you forget everything.

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What is your favourite benefit?
It’s the differentiating factors that make a company stand out. We offer all our employees a healthy lifestyle reimbursement. People choose the healthy activities they want to participate in for a year and they can claim reimbursement for those activities up to a set amount. It is really valued and the take-up is high.

What are your career goals?
As long as I remain interested and interesting, that’s what matters to me. At the moment, it’s really just to continue to develop and grow in the reward space. I’m always interested in keeping my finger in other areas of specialty related to reward.