DP World’s Jane Healy was named pensions manager of the year at the EI awards. Jack Jones finds out more.

Jane Healy has had a varied career in the pensions industry, starting as a secretary in a consulting firm, and including a spell at the troubled Polestar scheme. She is currently running the pension schemes of shipping giant DP World.

Jane Healy

“I’ve been in pensions for over 30 years now,” she says. “I stopped counting at 20, because it shows how old I’m getting! I started off as employee number 12 at Hewitt Associates when they first opened in this country.

“I worked as a receptionist, and because I’m nosey and always want to know what’s going on, I ended up helping out the guy who was the one-man administration department. As they took on admin clients I taught myself pensioner payroll and eventually I ended up being full time in that department.”

MOVING ON UP

After three years Healy moved onto an in-house role at Dexion for a decade before joining Whitbread to head up the firm’s 30-strong pensions administration team. This was followed by a stint as interim pensions manager at Rank before she landed a permanent job running the Polestar pension scheme.

Healy says: “The day I joined, the personnel director said ‘I now have to tell you the real role you need to do.’ She explained they would be carrying out a pre-pack administration and leaving behind the pension scheme, and I had the role of either putting the scheme into the PPF or finding a way to run a scheme without an employer.

I called the scheme’s advisers and trustee board for an emergency meeting”

“After going home and wondering whether I should go back the next day I decided no challenge had ever beaten me, I called the scheme’s advisers and trustee board for an emergency meeting. I introduced myself and said ‘I’ve just been notified of this problem, does anyone have a solution?’.”

The answer they came up with – working closely with the regulator – was to set up a non-profit company with the sole function of running the scheme  which would act as its sponsor.

“At that time the scheme was pretty well funded, so we thought we had a chance of keeping the scheme running,” says Healy. “We worked really hard, but that was the end of 2006 and 12 months later things in the global economy started going wrong.”

A HARD LANDING

Ultimately the global crash of 2007/8 scuppered the scheme, but not before a further 10% of deferred members reached retirement age, qualifying them for full compensation from the PPF. By 2012, however, the funding level had deteriorated, and a second pre-pack at Polestar had severed the group from a company that had agreed to contribute to the scheme in the original deal.

“We were hoping to keep the scheme open so we could pay everyone’s benefits, when they fell due,” says Healy.

“But at that point I realised it would be immoral to continue. So, when I made the call to the regulator to tell them about the pre-pack I said that we’d done as much as we could.”

TPR agreed and the scheme began the process of entering the PPF. Healy says: “From a professional perspective, it was a brilliant experience, with a very steep learning curve. But personally, it was the most exhausting and time-consuming piece of work.”

When I made the call to the regulator said that we’d done as much as we could”

After a short spell at Mercer, Healy realised her heart was in scheme management and she moved into her current role.

“I’m the pension manager for all our UK schemes and provide advice to all our overseas companies. We have two DB schemes, a group personal pension, and large liabilities in the MNOPF and MNRPF,” she says.

“The pension team is me, my PA and an assistant pensions manager, so it’s a small team and we’re constantly on the go, but I love every minute of it.”

Healy loves the pace of change, but thinks it’s time for a breather. “I’d like some time to implement all the changes that have been thrown at us over the last few years. It would be great to get everything bedded down and know it works before the next massive change.”