Dev Raval, group head of reward at BSkyB, explains how the media firm has adopted an environmental-friendly stance and aligned perks with business strategy
Like so many others working in the benefits profession, Dev Raval, group head of reward at BSkyB, fell into the field more by accident than design.
When he began working in HR at SmithKline Beecham, Raval’s sights were firmly fixed on specialising in employee development, however, he ended up covering for a colleague on maternity leave who handled benefits. “My colleague never came back, so the HR director asked me to cover the role until a replacement was found. But after a while I enjoyed it, so I stayed in the job,” he explains.
Over the past 17 years, roles in general HR, and reward and benefits at companies such as Prudential, Citibank and Vodafone have convinced Raval that benefits are, in fact, the key driving force in the human resources department. “Reward has the biggest impact on what HR does. It is the lever that a company has to talk about what [it] values and how it treats its people.”
During his time in the industry, Raval has witnessed how the role of reward managers have changed. In particular, he perceives that far more is now expected of reward professionals. “Expectations have increased. Now I think that compensation and benefit managers are expected to work more as business partners.”
Raval has also experienced how the remit of compensation and benefit managers has altered in their day-to-day working lives. Whereas the role may previously have been focused specifically on reward, those working in the profession are now often expected to contribute to other areas of HR as well. For Raval, these include “contributing to wider HR initiatives and also helping to retain and engage talented employees at work”.
This view reflects the work that Raval has undertaken in his current role at BSkyB, where he has worked to line up the business values of the media organisation with the benefits that are on offer. This has included changing the way that benefits are packaged and how they are communicated to staff.
At BSkyB, for example, customer choice is very important to the business. Raval aims to reflect this level of choice in the organisation’s benefits package, particularly through its salary sacrifice offering, Sky Choices. “We are lining up the way that we reward people at BSkyB with the direction that the company is headed. We have Sky Choices for our staff and the way that we brand it and communicate it is done in the same way that we would do for our customers,” Raval explains.
The green agenda is another is a key concern throughout the company, and one which has filtered all the way down to benefits and influenced the package of perks on offer. “We were the first media company to go carbon neutral, and although we were doing this as a business we wanted to take our people with us as well,” Raval adds.
As a result, he has helped to launch perks such as financial incentives for drivers who switch to eco-friendly hybrid company cars.
When delivering benefits, Raval has always tried to remain focused on what it is he is trying to achieve and does this by placing great emphasis on the overall objective. All too often, he says, benefits managers can get pulled into areas that shouldn’t be their main concern.
“Worry less about the technical detail of each benefit because you can always get an expert to do that. The question you have to ask yourself is ‘what this [benefit] is actually going to do for the business?'” Raval adds.
While climbing the reward ladder, Raval has not looked to business figures for inspiration or been influenced by any books by management gurus. He attributes his success to those he has worked with along the way.
“For me, my role models have been the managers that I have worked for throughout my career. They have been particularly inspirational people,” he says.
2004-present Group head of reward at BSkyB.
2003-2004 Interim compensation and benefits executive at Vodafone.
1999-2003 Vice president UK compensation at GlaxoSmithKline.
1998-1999 Compensation and benefits manager Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Citibank.
1992-1998 Compensation account manager at SmithKline Beecham.
1990-1992 Personnel officer at Prudential.
- What has been the biggest hurdle you have faced in your career? BSkyB has gone through so many changes in the last three years and it has been difficult to keep up with the pace. We have had to make sure that what we do in HR is kept fresh for our people.
- What are your strengths? I think being focused on what the business wants, trying to make HR successful in terms of the business as a whole, and being able to have a laugh along the way.
- What are your favourite benefits? The green benefits, I think we [at BSkyB] do them better than anyone else, and it is an issue that is important to our customers and our employees.