Thought Leadership Competition

Competition Details  |   Eligibility   |   Adjudication & Awards   |   Submission Rules   |   Contact the Council

The American Benefits Council is pleased to invite emerging benefits professionals to showcase their thought leadership on the future of employee benefits. As part of the celebration of our 50th anniversary, the Council is sponsoring an initiative to solicit creative, forward-looking ideas from the community of benefits professionals who will shape employee benefits design, communication and public policy in the future.

Awards will be announced at the Council's 50th Anniversary Symposium on November 29-30, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

The competition is brought to you by the American Benefits Council and partnering benefits leaders.

Media Partner


Communication Partners


Competition Details

Emerging benefits professionals are invited to answer:

What would make the employee benefits system more successful in the future?

Submissions may address the question with the focus of your choice. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Benefits communications
  • Types of benefits
  • Benefits plan design
  • Financing of benefits
  • Regulation and public policy
  • Educational initiatives
  • Global benefits
  • Use of technology
  • The role of stakeholders (e.g. employers, individuals, governments)

In the spirit of innovation and creativity, submissions are not restricted to any single medium. The Council invites written pieces as well as mixed and digital media such as video, websites, mobile applications and more).

To promote the greatest flexibility and creativity for submissions, there is no specific time frame for "the future" (e.g. 10 years from now, etc.).



The Council's work relates to all aspects of employee benefits. We invite submissions from anyone whose responsibilities touch benefits (e.g. human resource professionals, attorneys, actuaries, government affairs representatives).

Although there is no restriction on the number of years in the profession that a participant in the Competition must have, it is generally assumed that submissions will come from individuals who are early in their benefits careers so that the Competition can recognize emerging thought leaders.


Adjudication & Awards

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of experienced benefits professionals.

Successful submissions will demonstrate exceptional knowledge of the current benefits landscape while also exhibiting the capacity and commitment to thinking innovatively about its future.

Submissions will be adjudicated per the following criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Practicality
  • Clarity
  • Quality of work/Effort
  • Depth of understanding

First prize is a $2,500 cash award. All other finalists will receive a $500 cash prize (or donated to the charity of their choice). All finalists will receive an expense-paid invitation to the Council's 50th Anniversary Symposium on November 29-30, 2017 in Washington, D.C.  Finalists will also receive the opportunity to be connected with a professional mentor in the benefits field. (Notification for this opportunity will occur at a later date after the competition has ended.)

All finalists’ submissions will be featured on the American Benefits Council website and in an announcement to the national and benefits news media.

We are very proud to partner with the following Communication Partners, who we admire as thought leaders, to share this opportunity with their constituents:

Council on Employee Benefits
Employee Benefit Research Institute
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
WorldatWork – The Total Rewards Association
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network


Submission Rules

All entries must be submitted electronically. As noted above, there is no restriction on the medium by which participants may address the question posed by the Competition (e.g. essays, mixed-media, etc.).

If submitted as a written piece, the maximum word limit is 1,500 words. If submitted as an audio or video production, the maximum length is 10 minutes.

All submissions must be submitted electronically. (If the submission is built physically or has a physical component, it must be documented electronically to be submitted. If the submission needs to be reviewed in its original form, the Council may request the submission be sent later in the review process.)

Submissions must not have been previously published.

How to Sumbit

Please send your submission electronically to Include a brief paragraph biography of yourself, including full name, title, organization and details on your benefits career or studies.

Important Dates

Competition Deadline: All submissions or extension requests must be received by 5:00 p.m. ET on September 8, 2017.

Notification of Results: Finalists will be notified by November 1, 2017.

Award Announcement & Celebration: Finalists will be invited to the Council's 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Symposium on November 29-30, 2017 in Washington, D.C. to be recognized for their innovative thought leadership.


Contact the Council

For further information or questions regarding the Thought Leadership Competition for Emerging Benefits Professionals, please contact

For updates on Council activity, find us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

For media inquiries, please proceed to our newsroom.

Subscribe to the Council’s American Benefits Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, RSS, or on our site.