jessica melville

jessica melville
MEET Suzanne Vaughan

Head of Retirement, Edinburgh

Suzanne Vaughan

Team Retirement

Segment  Human Capital and Benefits

Location Edinburgh, Scotland

Year hired 2009

University/Degree Heriot-Watt University, BSc Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics

Personal skills or interests:

Reconnecting with my creative side through music classes, messy play and macaroni pictures — with my one-year-old daughter.

Can you tell us about your history with Willis Towers Watson?

I was hired as a consultant, advising trustees of defined benefit pension schemes and supporting the scheme actuary lead consultant. From there, I became a scheme actuary leading client accounts. I’ve also completed secondment work, in which I worked in-house for a large banking client supporting their internal pension function through a significant period of change in regulations affecting their pension scheme. I then moved my career focus to de-risking pension schemes, i.e., removing pension scheme risk through the purchase of bulk annuities in the insurance market. Today as head of Edinburgh, Retirement, I am responsible for the strategic direction of our team, revenue and growth, and overall team performance.

Can you tell us about the day-to-day responsibilities of your job?

As head of the Edinburgh office, my day-to-day job is varied and unpredictable — which I love. One week I am on the road going around Scotland fronting external events in the local market, promoting our brand and the work and solutions we provide. The next week I can be behind closed doors with key members of my senior team considering business strategy for the year.

What are the key challenges of your role? How have you overcome them?

Time is always in short supply — as it is with most jobs these days. And having my first child, a one-year-old daughter, can put additional pressure on the time I have available to give to my role. But the company has been exceptionally supportive during this time of change for me, and I have been able to reshape various work priorities to ensure I can still achieve the best outcome for the local team.

What training and development opportunities have you enjoyed as a result of your role at Willis Towers Watson?

I was fortunate to be selected for our Emerging Leaders training programme a few years ago. This was a two-year programme that brought together more than 30 colleagues from across Europe. I met some incredibly talented individuals and, importantly, some great friends along the way. I’ve learned to be open to opportunities, such as this one, as you never know where they will take you.
If you remain open to new things, you develop along the way. You need to be brave and sometimes take a less obvious move (maybe sideways) rather than always aiming straight up. Working for an organisation like Willis Towers Watson allows you this flexibility, given the breadth of services we offer. The skills you start with develop along the journey, and the roles you end up taking may differ greatly from your original career path or plans.

What’s been one of your most exciting projects to date?

As part of the Emerging Leaders experience, we were split into smaller project teams and my group was tasked with considering the benefit package of 2025. We were given access to senior leaders and research facilities across our company. This also involved travel across Europe (Madrid, Munich, London), culminating in a proposal to our company’s leadership committee offering ways to help shape where we take our business in the future. It was fantastic to be given the opportunity to add our voice to the future direction of our company and enjoy the freedom to pursue such an ambitious initiative.

What is your proudest achievement since joining Willis Towers Watson?

I’m proud to have been given the flexibility to make a difference in how we drive our team forward locally by becoming head of the Edinburgh office and being entrusted to run a team of 40 colleagues. The role allows me to hire top talent, and then I’m tasked with putting them in the right scenarios to ensure both they — and as a result, we as a team — reach our full potential.

How would you describe the culture at Willis Towers Watson?

The culture is exceptionally collaborative and supportive. I continue to be amazed at the lengths colleagues will go to in supporting each other, putting clients first and getting results.

What do you like best about working at Willis Towers Watson?

Being part of such a large organisation means you have access to the very best ideas to take to your client base. But somehow, we have not lost the friendly feel of a small company, and there is a real sense of team here.

Was there anything that surprised you about your role or the company?

The degree to which the environment is collaborative. Given the size of the company, it continues to surprise me how supported and connected you are to so many people across different fields.

What is your hope for your career in the future?

My hope now is to continue doing a job I genuinely love. I know that working at Willis Towers Watson will continue to challenge and stretch me, and allow me the flexibility to take my career wherever my future skills and interests go. I love working with our clients and our team so whatever it is, it will involve both of these.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone considering employment with Willis Towers Watson?

Do it! I’m so glad I did. I was very happy with my previous employer and it took quite a bit for me to convince myself to move — but I’ve never looked back. The breadth of opportunity is unbelievable and, most importantly to me, the culture is fantastic.