Debi Povey, head of reward at Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, got her first taste of reward while working as a personal assistant (PA) for Prudential’s head of organisational development.
While she was collating a series of job descriptions during an HR restructure, she caught sight of a description for a reward analyst’s job and decided to apply for it.
“They didn’t offer me the job, but I started working as a PA for the head of compensation and benefits with a promise that, if I wanted to, I could get more involved in reward-based stuff,” says Povey. “Within six months, I was doing it full time.”
Over the next six years, Povey held a series of reward roles at Prudential. Then, in 2010, when her role was relocated to Stirling, Scotland, she opted not to move. A former colleague heard she was on the market and recruited her to the Bwin.Party reward team.
“I joined as senior integration consultant,” says Povey. “It was just about to go through a merger. They were looking for someone to help with the harmonisation process and come up with options and plans and timelines for that.”
From that initial 12-month contract, Povey took up a permanent reward adviser role and was appointed head of reward at the end of 2012.
Looking back at her experiences at Prudential and Bwin.Party, Povey says she has been able to inject her own particular skillsets into the world of reward. “I think communication is one of the most important elements of reward,” she says.
“I am famous for my sense of humour, which means I come across in a much more engaging and enthusiastic way than other people I’ve come across who are hell-bent on number crunching and that’s the only thing they think about when it comes to reward. For me, it’s slightly different.”
Povey sees reward as primarily a communications exercise. “If you’ve got the best reward strategy in the world, it doesn’t matter,” she says. “If people don’t understand it, you lose them immediately.
“It’s about knowing your audience, finding the time to work out what’s right for people, and to find the balance with what the organisation can do and try to meet in the middle.”
Povey has challenges at Bwin.Party, in particular the global span of the organisation, which covers 30 countries. “No matter how much you want to put just one strategy in place, you’ve always got to do local tailoring,” she says.
“You can’t do that sat at a desk, researching online. You’ve got to get out there, and that’s where the communication skills come in as well. The big piece for me was going out and talking to the employees and getting a feel for what they value. It’s making sure you get the right thing in place for the right people at the right time.”
The work Povey and her team put in was recognised when they won the award for ‘Best international benefits’ at the Employee Benefits Awards 2013.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m very cheeky and I’m definitely not risk averse. I don’t necessarily play the appropriate political games in an office, but we’re not that kind of office. I’m resilient and consistent, but at the same time able to defuse a tense situation with a camaraderie-based comment everyone can relate to.
What is your favourite benefit?
Buying and selling holiday. We can’t do it in all locations, but in any location where we’ve offered it, it’s been incredibly popular. It gives people exactly what they want. If they want a bit more cash, they sell. If they want a bit more holiday, that option is there.
What are your career aspirations?
I would continue doing reward for a certain amount of time, but maybe move up to a reward director role in the next five years. Technically, I’ve only been doing reward for [just over] 10 years, so I think you need a few more years under your belt these days. At some point, I’d also like to diversify out into the more generalist HR director roles, but again, I’ve probably got a bit more of a cavalier attitude than I should have right now for that type of role.
2012- present head of reward, Bwin.Party
2011-2012 reward manager, Bwin.Party
2010-2011 senior integration consultant, Bwin.Party
2005-2010 reward specialist, Prudential
2003-2005 senior reward analyst, Prudential
2001-2003 reward analyst, Prudential
1997-2000 organisational development team assistant, Prudential