Interview with Miranda Rosenbaum, reward manager, N Brown Group

Miranda Rosenbaum, reward manager at N Brown Group, counts a desire to succeed as a major factor in her professional progress.

Miranda Rosenbaum is living proof that an interest in and enthusiasm for a subject area can be every bit as important as academic qualifications.

She left school in 1993 with five GCSEs and a desire to get into fashion design. Sixteen years on, she is reward manager at home shopping retailer N Brown Group and a dedicated reward specialist.

“I have developed and grown in a work environment as opposed to a study environment,” says Rosenbaum. “I was very arty at school and wanted to be a fashion designer. It is ironic that I am now working for a retailer. I left school and started a college course [in fashion design] but I left after a year. I just wanted to start working.”

Before benefits

Rosenbaum properly began her working life in 1996 by spending three years as a doctor’s receptionist. She made the decision to move into the benefits arena while studying for a Certificate in Personnel Practice (CPP) at Salford University in 2002, which helped her decide which HR path she wanted to take. At that time, she was working for computer testing and assessment organisation Prometric, which she had joined in 1999, initially as a receptionist.

“It was from doing the CPP that I decided I did not want to generalise, that I was happy to stay in payroll and try to get a bit involved in the basic benefits administration at Prometric,” she says.

After Prometric lost the government contract to deliver the driving theory test in 2004, Rosenbaum moved to the new holder of the contract, Pearson Vue. There she looked after both the HR and benefits system for almost three years, before moving to her current role at N Brown Group in March 2007.

“Pearson was an excellent platform and my greatest achievement is everything I have been able to deliver from that here [at N Brown Group],” she says. “My job is a group role in a FTSE 250 retailer looking after reward from weekly-paid employees right through to chief executive level. It is complex, at best.”

Adapting to challenges

But Rosenbaum’s rise from receptionist to a position that involves making decisions at board level has not been without its challenges. After arriving at N Brown Group from Pearson, she soon realised there was some adapting to be done.

“When I first came, it was about trying to understand the differences between the companies and working out how to adapt a benefits strategy to that,” she says. “At first, I think I was running before I was walking. It would have been really nice to be able to apply an all-singing, all-dancing benefits system, but we were not ready for that yet as a business.”

A drive to succeed

Although Rosenbaum does not possess a litany of reward-related academic qualifications, it is evident she is extremely driven. She is keen to stress the message that a desire to succeed can lead to a satisfying career in benefits.

“You should remain focused and determined, really,” she says. “I do not think it is something you need to do an endless amount of study for if you are the sort of person who enjoys the more technical side of HR. Just stick at it.”

Rosenbaum shows that stickability can breed success. Fashion design’s loss has been reward’s gain.

reward manager, N Brown Group
2004-2007 HR systems and benefits officer, Pearson Vue
2000-2004 HR and benefits co-ordinator, Prometric
1999-2000 receptionist, Prometric
1996-1999 receptionist at doctor’s surgery

Who is your role model?
I think I have learnt an awful lot from various different people over the years, so I would be lying if I said there was one person I aspired to. There are many influences.
What are your strengths and weakness? My strengths are that I am determined, I am loyal, I am driven and passionate. My weakness is that I am maybe over-critical about the work that I do.
What is your career goal? Just to keep my energies within reward and focused, and rise as high as I can within that specialism. I would like to get into global reward at some stage.