Interview with Janet Mckenzie, international reward, policy and mobility, The Body Shop

Janet Mckenzie, international reward, policy and mobility manager at The Body Shop, finds her love of cooking helps to get her mind around any reward and benefits problems that may arise

Janet Mckenzie, international reward, policy and mobility manager at The Body Shop, has a unique way to deal with the challenging world of reward and benefits. She likes nothing more than working through any issues that arise with a little culinary experimentation at home.

She explains: “If I am wrestling with a gnarly issue at work, it is really satisfying to come home and do something that has a nice, clear end result and, as an added benefit, is tasty too. I recently tackled pea and ham soup using a whole hock, which was a bit of pig I had never used before.”

Mckenzie found her way into reward via a career in IT at Capgemini, where she was a service delivery manager. “When that contract came to an end, as I was technical and quite good at talking to people, I was asked if I would be interested in working in the recruitment team,” she says.

That led to three months in Edinburgh, where Mckenzie was tasked with managing Capgemini’s 2,000-strong car fleet. She then helped to introduce the firm’s flexible benefits scheme. “I found I had a taste for reward and benefi ts, and have been learning allabout them ever since,” she says.

Mckenzie learned a number of lessons in subsequent reward roles at Arqiva, MIB Group and NATS. “A key lesson is never try to do it all alone because you’ll drive yourself mad,” she says. “Earlier in my career, I worried that to ask for help might make me seem unable to cope, but actually, it’s the other way around. The best people work collaboratively with their team and the wider business.”

International mobility

Mckenzie’s current role at The Body Shop, which she took up in June 2012, includes responsibility for international mobility. “It is a new area for me, so there is lots of new stuff to learn, such as the delights of tax equalisation and shadow payrolls. This is one of the reasons I was attracted to the role.”

The beauty product retailer, which is keen to develop its workforce internationally, has 9,000 employees across 65 countries. Mckenzie adds: “[My role involves] helping the assignee with all the intricacies of moving countries and allowing them to focus on the day job.”

While she adjusts to her new international outlook, Mckenzie is also looking ahead to the organisation’s July 2013 auto-enrolment staging date. “Planning is well under way,” she says. “We are looking at all the financial aspects, helping the business understand the potential additional costs involved. Pensions have traditionally been a challenging benefit to communicate and to engage employees with, so any change must be handled carefully.

“Getting the message right is going to be important. As with everything to do with reward, communication will be key. It is an opportunity to remind employees to think about how they want to save for their future, and to help them understand what they can do now to help themselves.”


June 2012-present international reward, policy and mobility manager, The Body Shop

November 2011-June 2012 interim reward, policy and services manager, NATS

March-November 2011 interim HR manager, MIB Group

2006-2011 head of reward and benefits, Arqiva

2003-2006 reward specialist, Lockheed Martin UK

1994-2002 IT and HR, Capgemini


How would you describe yourself?
I like to find the upside in any experience or situation, which I guess could get a bit wearing for the more cynical. I also have a very dry sense of humour, which can get me into trouble sometimes, although it is handy for getting out of tight spots.

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What is your favourite benefit?
The Body Shop has a great benefit called Love Money. Every year, each employee can claim up to £100 to put towards the cost of courses, events, training or health treatments to provide them with new skills or enhance health and wellbeing. It is really popular, and we are always surprised at the range of activities it gets put towards, be it learning a new language, having a massage or getting lessons in swimming, driving or golf.

What are you hobbies?
My husband and I love good food and are really keen on cooking, so I am really happy pottering around the kitchen. I love doing comfort food, like big batches of chilli or putting together a fish pie from scratch.