Best Employers has always been about helping companies in the eastern region to understand, support and develop their people to promote business growth. The significant impact of the past year has demonstrated how important employee engagement, culture and values are now, and are going to be even more important as our region’s businesses look forward to recovery and growth.
The 2021 Best Employers Eastern Region programme begins on the 22nd April, with a virtual launch event, where we are delighted to be joined by two world-class industry experts who will be sharing their knowledge and experience.
Award winning Global HR leader and best-selling business author
Debra is a highly experienced and award-winning HR leader, world-class speaker, three-time author, and was recently named one of the top 101 global employee engagement influencers. She’s had a varied career, working at a senior level for global companies such as Gap Inc., Honeywell, Merlin Entertainments and Reward Gateway. She was Group Reward Director at Reward Gateway, where she’s developed and delivered HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement. In 2019 Debra founded her own company as Chief Pay It Forward Officer, where she’s inspiring and helping others to bring out their inner rebel and drive business change.
Over the course of her career, Debra has been fuelling the employee engagement `rebelution’ through a variety of ways, including speaking at events and leading workshops around the world, teaching professional courses and writing. An accomplished author, Debra has published three books, the first one about employee communication strategy and best practice (“Effective HR Communication: A Framework for Communicating HR Programs with Impact”), the second one which talks about why and how to be an engagement rebel (“Build it: A Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement”), and her latest book which focuses on company values as a strategic and effective business tool (“Bringing Your Values Out to Play”).
Debra speaks at events around the world on a wide variety of topics relating to people, engagement, company culture, reward and recognition and the changing world of work.
Tamara Lohan MBE
Entrepreneur, CEO, Board Director
Entrepreneur and technology strategist Tamara Lohan is an inspiring, energetic leader with a track record of developing and building businesses. She has spent over 15 years leading technology and e-commerce in the travel industry.
Tamara’s experience building brands and businesses began in Brazil on the launch team for an energy drink. She then honed her marketing skills on both sides of the client/agency divide, working first with Honda, then at the WPP below-the-line agency Wunderman. In 2002 she left the corporate world to run and modernise the company her mother had founded – a dating agency – and start a new business.
Tamara co-founded the boutique hotel travel specialist Mr & Mrs Smith with her husband James. As CTO, she pivoted the business from book publisher to online travel agent, evolving the company’s digital infrastructure and expanding the business into new markets, opening offices in Australia, the US and Singapore. She has led financing rounds from a variety of sources, including the world’s first travel bond and one of the fastest, highest raises on the Crowdcube platform to date. Tamara and James were awarded MBEs for services to the British travel industry in 2014.
In April 2020, she became CEO of the company, now an iconic British brand and global organisation with a pre-Covid turnover of more than £100m. As CEO, she has been an active champion of diversity and inclusion within the business and has intensified its focus on sustainability and responsible travel. She has proven herself a strong and resilient leader – a problem solver who can identify trends and opportunities, make tough decisions and inspire her teams. Alongside her understanding of the mass-affluent and luxury e-commerce customer, she understands how to manage the day-to-day operations of a global business through periods of growth and crisis, ensuring the right tools and people are in place to deliver on strategy.
Her consumer understanding, expertise in bilateral (marketplace-style) businesses and love of ambitious technology have also been put to good use at Not on the High Street where she serves as a non-exec director. She has helped steer the business through a change of CEO and a major tech disintegration project, hiring key members of staff, and shaping the growth strategy. NOTHS is a Covid beneficiary, giving Tamara the opportunity to see the business impact of the pandemic from both sides.
As the public face of the Mr & Mrs Smith brand and a highly regarded woman in tech, Tamara writes and speaks on disruption, digital innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, women in technology and business. She also enjoys mentoring – she mentors a start-up called Inkpact and is a founding member of the Witsend network, set up to mentor and encourage other women in business. She has been featured in publications such as The Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Harpers Bazaar, hosted supper clubs for British Vogue and keynoted at conferences around the world. Tamara has also made TV appearances on This Morning, Sky News and Bloomberg.
The new 2021 programme will begin with a virtual launch event on 22nd April 202, which will also mark the opening of the employee engagement survey. This will be followed by webinars on:
- Engaging and leading remote and onsite teams
- Developing workforce resilience
- Fostering an innovative, hungry and progressive culture
- Recruitment, onboarding and rewarding your team
The programme will complete with an awards conference in September.
Best Employers Eastern Region is a community for organisations that believe success is achieved through their people.