Editor’s Note: Lisa Anderson, CPP, holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of California—Santa Cruz. She obtained her Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation in 2005. With more than 25 years of payroll experience, Anderson began in HR and progressed her career through the various levels of payroll for small, large, and global companies. Anderson also worked for the payroll service provider side of the house, implementing clients onto specific payroll software. She has used her implementation background to drive her employers’ migration of global payroll onto different platforms. Anderson serves on the American Payroll Association’s (APA) Certification Board, Certification Item Development Task Force (CIDTF), is a Past President of the Dallas Chapter of the APA, and serves as the current Education Director for the Fort Worth Chapter of the APA. Currently, Anderson is implementing data onto a specific company’s platform for their global payroll of eight countries. After implementation is complete in October, Lisa will run its global payroll.
In Part 1 of this Professional Spotlight in the Aug/Sept 2021 Global Payroll issue, read about Anderson’s thoughts on global payroll trends, challenges in global payroll, what technology has impacted the field, and more.
Data security is an ever-growing aspect of global payroll. How has your company prioritized it?
Now more than ever, data security is top priority. Having multiple in-country service providers and ensuring the data is safe and managed in accordance with country specific and global requirements can be tricky. Using a global payroll provider to ensure data security and compliance with data management requirements on a local and global level is becoming the best way to mitigate data management issues.
How do you manage GDPR?
As you know, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was the first large-scale attempt to regulate the collection, storage, and sharing of employee data. Driven by an increasing concern for how everyone’s data is protected, GDPR brought to the forefront the need for payroll services and other agencies to have in place data protection measures and to routinely provide proof of compliance. It is now one of the first questions asked of payroll providers: “Are you GDPR-compliant?” In addition to ensuring your partners are GDPR-compliant, you need to make sure your company is GDPR-compliant. Knowing where your data is stored is key. “In the cloud” is not very specific, is it? A company has the responsibility to know that its data is stored securely and managed according to local and global requirements.
Are there additional security considerations?
Mobile employees create another level of security considerations. Ensuring all employees are accessing data through VPN and multiple authentications, having a clear written company policy that specifies what data can be shared via email, storing data only on shared drives when encrypted, protecting documents with passwords, and restricting access to data through security levels are just some of the ways companies can reduce data security breaches.
How do you decide on a global payroll service provider?
When choosing a global payroll service provider, you always want to know scalability, compliance, reporting, available features and services, and cost. However, just as important are ease of use, integration ability with your existing vendors, and their customer service model. The future of global payroll is consolidation of services. The days of having local payroll partners each managed indirectly through an accounting services contract or directly by an internal payroll professional are nearly past.
Companies want a global solution with expansion services, payment services, compliant payroll processing, and tax reporting and filing that can be managed by one provider. Payroll professionals want to use their skills and expertise to create an accurate and on-time payroll with compliance-driven reporting and analytics for both the business and its employees. It is difficult to perform at that level when you are spending most of your time managing myriad vendors.
How did you get started in your career?
I started my payroll career as an accounts receivable clerk when my company offered me the job as an alternative to being laid off as an Archaeology Field Investigator. After that job ended, I moved into a personnel manager role. I was hooked when payroll was added to the job duties. Payroll chooses you; you don’t choose payroll. Since then, I have held every payroll position from clerk to manager to implementation specialist. My current role brings my two passions together: process redesign and global payroll management.
What are some of your go-to organizational tools?
Organization is key to successfully managing one payroll and becomes invaluable when managing multiple payrolls. I utilize calendar tools like MS Outlook or Gmail to manage time to work on projects, daily duties and deadlines, as well as meetings.
What advice would you give to someone interested in moving into management?
If you want to move into a management role, don’t be afraid to take on projects or tasks that are out of your comfort zone. Take all the webinars you can, read all the payroll articles and updates from the APA, GPMI, and your payroll service provider. The more you know, the more able you are to take on new duties or assist on a project. Obtaining a CPP designation helped me advance my career. The knowledge required to obtain a CPP spans so many elements, which gives you the ability to work through issues for which you may not have any hands-on experience. The recertification requirements for the CPP ensure you keep abreast of the current issues and changes in payroll. Employers recognize the value a CPP brings to the payroll team. If you aren’t eligible to take the CPP exam, start with the FPC certification. This shows your manager and prospective employers that you are serious about your career and gives you a competitive edge when promotions or new opportunities come around.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned?
I learned early on that honesty and integrity are two of your most valuable assets. Treat people with respect, treat them fairly, provide the best customer service possible to everyone, and it will all be returned to you. Do what you say you are going to do and do the right thing. Be dependable and honest, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When I first started in global payroll, I didn’t have any formal training for country-specific payroll, yet everyone looked to me for all the answers. I learned as much as possible from webinars, websites, articles, the APA’s annual Payroll Congress workshops, and my professional network. I didn’t let myself say “I don’t know,” but rather “Let me find out.” That meant for many late nights, calling in favors from my colleagues, cold calling tax and benefit agencies, and not being afraid to ask “dumb” questions. It also meant being able to take on a project of global expansion for a company that had no expertise in the area. Success in this area accelerated my career more than anything else I had done previously. The skills I gained enabled me to take on the position I have now. It is like a house of cards; you start with a good foundation and keep adding layers of knowledge and experience. You may have setbacks from time to time. When things go wrong, you learn from it and keep moving forward. One day, you will look back to find that learning a skill has now turned into a blossoming career.
What is a day like in the life of a global payroll professional?
Managing a global payroll means having a crazy schedule—U.K. employees are asking questions and vendors need answers before 11 a.m. U.S. Central Time, and Japan employees and vendors need answers after 8 p.m. U.S. Central Time. Working for an employer that recognizes the need for a flexible work schedule and places importance on a work/home life balance is very important. My personal life is tangled with my work life—having to finalize payrolls while on vacation, having meetings at dinner time, and working late nights before “go live” on a new country payroll are all part of the job. But having a flexible work schedule also allows me to take my kids to appointments in the middle of the day, start later/end earlier, and, when added with the ability to work from home, I can take advantage of slow times to talk with my kids or do personal errands.
What are some stress management techniques you have found useful?
I take at least 30 minutes each day to do something I want to do, like going for a walk with my dogs, swimming, gardening, or absolutely nothing!
How do you incorporate professional development into the lifestyle of a full-time job?
Staying abreast of payroll changes, new trends, and new technology is part of my job. You must see your development as needing to grow not just with your company, but also with the payroll industry. My employer understands and, to some degree, expects me to be involved in professional associations such as the APA and GPMI. Being a member of a local APA chapter, or better yet, volunteering to be on a committee or on the chapter board, provides you an opportunity to gain knowledge, build a network of resources, and to improve your company policies/procedures based off that knowledge and networking. When I have a few minutes of downtime during a workday, I spend it listening to webinars or I reach out to contacts to find professionals to do presentations on relevant payroll topics for my APA chapter meetings or Lunch & Learn webinars.
My knowledge allows my skills to grow and my skills allow my career to grow. Part of your development should also be to help others develop their careers. When I had questions or needed help, someone helped me, so I make sure I am available to help others. Being a part of the APA and GPMI is a great way to pay it forward.