Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Employee benefits professional of the year

Debra Corey, group compensation and benefits director, Merlin Entertainments

Debra Corey is a much-admired, charismatic and highly respected figure in the employee benefits world. Before joining Merlin Entertainments, she had built up a high profile in reward by taking on the challenges of senior roles at a number of well-known organisations, including Gap, Honeywell, Morrisons and Quintiles.

Debra, who has more than 20 years’ experience in compensation and benefits, began her compensation career in the US. She moved to the UK in 1998 for a two-year expatriate assignment with Gap, and entered the world of international compensation and benefits.

The breadth of Debra’s experience has given her some valuable lessons. Topping the list is her ability to adapt initiatives to suit an organisation, even if it means altering original plans. Some of her greatest achievements have involved overcoming obstacles to implement large international projects. At Gap, for example, she successfully introduced total reward statements outside the US despite experiencing initial resistance to the project.

Debra has won several Employee Benefits accolades, with Merlin Entertainments taking this year’s prize for ‘Most effective motivation or incentive strategy’. Last year, in her former role as senior director of compensation and benefits, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Quintiles, Debra led the pharmaceutical firm to the top spot in the category ‘Most effective reward or benefits strategy for staff based outside the UK’, for its much-lauded launch of milk-themed international total reward statements.

It is Debra’s combination of practical experience, networking and inspirational public speaking that earned her a place in Employee Benefits’ inaugural 2012 list of Hot 100 benefits professionals. Debra said: “It was an amazing group of people who are all well known and respected. For me, it was just an honour to be among them.”


Neal Blackshire, benefits and compensation manager, McDonald’s Restaurants Neal helped McDonald’s take this year’s Employee Benefits Grand Prix award as well as ‘Most effective alignment of reward strategy to business strategy for organisations with more than 1,000 employees’. He is one of Employee Benefits’ Hot 100 benefits professionals.

Adam Brooke, UK employee benefits manager, JP Morgan Adam, another of Employee Benefits’ Hot 100, is a mover and shaker in the benefits world. Before joining JP Morgan, he built his reputation in roles at the John Lewis Partnership and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Jim Cowan, head of benefits, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Jim, who also appears on Employee Benefits’ Hot 100 list, was a member of the team that introduced total reward to RBS and is currently responsible for the bank’s employee benefits and recognition in the UK and Europe.

Chris Coyne, head of reward and HR services, City and Guilds Another member of the Hot 100, Chris is highly rated for his work in reward. In 2011, City and Guilds took the Employee Benefits award for ‘Most effective benefits strategy for organisations with fewer than 1,000 staff’.

Thomas Humphris, head office HR and UK reward director, Informa Thomas has made a vast contribution to the reward and benefits industry and is often asked to share his insights with peers. He has spent six years at Informa, and is also a member of the Hot 100.

Jane Vivier, reward and recognition manager, Cancer Research UK Jane featured in this year’s Hot 100 and last year Cancer Research UK won the Employee Benefits Award for ‘Most effective use of a voluntary benefits plan’.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012