Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Employee benefits specialist of the year

Francis O’Mahony, head of employee share plans and share registration, BT

Francis O’Mahony was voted this year’s Employee Benefits Specialist of the Year because of his pioneering work on workplace savings and dedication to financial education at BT. This year, BT took the award for ‘Most effective strategy to encourage workplace savings’ and share plans played an integral role in its entry.

Francis, who has been with BT for seven years, is responsible for driving forward strategy communications and administration for BT’s UK and global share plans. Before joining the company, he gained extensive experience of share schemes in a number of roles, including two years as a share plans consultant at Mercer. Francis also spent six years as employee share schemes unit manager at HM Revenue and Customs, at a time when UK share incentive plan (Sip) and UK enterprise management incentive (EMI) legislation was introduced.

His expertise is well recognised throughout the industry, which is reflected in calls for him to share his knowledge and experience with peers. For example, at this year’s Employee Benefits Pensions and Workplace Savings Summit, Francis spoke of the challenges of communicating the potential capital gains tax liability to BT staff because the firm’s share price had risen dramatically since its sharesave scheme was launched.

Francis believes clear communication is essential to engage employees with share schemes. He said: “It is about value for the customer, which is our employees and providing the best service for them.”


Patrick Watt, former head of health and wellness, EMEA and India, Goldman Sachs International
Patrick is recognised throughout the industry for his expertise in health and wellbeing gained from his considerable in-house and consultancy experience. Before joining Goldman Sachs in 2007, Watt spent 10 years working for Mercer’s UK healthcare practice. At Goldman Sachs, he was responsible for health and disability plans across the EMEA region. He was also one of last year’s Employee Benefits Hot 100 benefits professionals.

Lesley Williams, group pensions director, Whitbread
Lesley is responsible for corporate pensions strategy and the trustee company for the operation of Whitbread’s pension fund and its investments. She has worked in the pensions industry for more than 20 years, holding roles at Gateway Foodmarkets, Abbey National, the Pearl Group, and was head of pensions with the Henderson Group. She sits on the National Association of Pension Funds’ Retirement Policy Council.

Carol Young, pension manager, Heineken UK
Carol has a wealth of experience in the pensions industry encompassing in-house and consultancy roles. Before joining Heineken UK in 2009, she was an investment consultant at Mercer Investment Consulting. In this year’s Employee Benefits Awards, Heineken UK was shortlisted in the categories ‘Most effective pensions communications strategy’ and ‘Most effective pensions change strategy’.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012