The Stitch spotlight … 10 minutes with Pat Sims

27 June 2017

Our new blog series gives us an opportunity to talk to some of the industry’s finest. To start us off, Pat Sims, LTI plan manager at AstraZeneca and of former Orange, Rio Tinto and Vodafone fame, gives us an insight into her career and what makes her tick.

How did you first get involved in share plans?

By accident of course. I worked in tax and that evolved into employee benefit support for clients. I was seconded to Orange during their IPO and before I knew it I had moved over to the corporate world of in-house share plan management. I certainly don’t recall my school careers advisor mentioning it.

Tell us a bit about your roles over the years…

I’ve always worked with large global companies across both discretionary and all-employee plans. I’ve seen and been involved in numerous plan designs and launches; corporate actions; technology development and other activities. But just dealing with the day to day activity keeps me busy!

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?

With doubt the use of technology. When I started working in share plans everything was paper; online activity was very limited; tax was calculated manually; smart phones didn’t exist. A word document name could only be 10 characters long! And I think this change will continue for as long as companies are prepared to invest.

What do you think are the challenges for a share plan manager?

Day-to-day, the expectation is to achieve much more with much less. Tax, legal and regulatory challenges are increasing and participants expect a seamless and easy experience. We have to work with many different internal and external stakeholders, and juggle lots of different requirements, and I feel these complexities are not understood outside of the share plan world.

Have you got a ‘must-tell’ funny share plans tale you’d like to share?

Not sure I should share this one, but I worked many years ago on a UK plan launch. We used a cartoon dog which we named using the initials of the plan name. Everything was ready to go, and then someone explained the dog’s name in France was slang for a particular type of “adult activity”. A very close shave and red faces all round!

If you weren’t in share plans what would you be doing?

Running a dog kennel. That assumes I can’t just sit on a beach working my way through all the books I haven’t read and sipping all the fine wines I haven’t tasted!

What’s your biggest achievement?

In work, launching a global share purchase plan with my team. Outside of work working out how to change nappies and feed babies without having to redecorate weekly.

Advice you’d give to the 18-year-old you?

Don’t be so timid and shy. I’m still shy but I’ve worked out how to deal with it.

What’s retirement going to look like for you?

I think that question needs to be shortened to “What’s retirement?”

Tell us something we don’t know about you…

I play the saxophone. I started learning when I was 30 and took my Grade 7 exam when I was 7 months pregnant with my eldest son. I also play the guitar, clarinet and piano (sort of) but I definitely can’t sing!

And finally, two of our favourite Stitch personality questions

What’s your favourite cheese?

I enjoy Stilton and real strong mature cheddar. I also like pungent and runny French Brie.

If you could be anybody on Stars In Their Eyes, who would you be?

Well I didn’t know what Stars In Their Eyes is, so I had to google it! As mentioned above I don’t sing and I’m not that keen on performing in public (outside of work stuff). So this is a toughie. If I have to look and sound a bit like them Alison Moyet maybe? If that isn’t a requirement I will go for Annie Lennox. Can I go now…..