Christine Stolpe, CPP, a Global Payroll Strategist, recently opened her own payroll consulting firm, Wages Creek, in September 2019. She is the Founder and President of the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) NorCal Chapter in Northern California.
How did you become involved with global payroll?
I chose to start learning global payroll in 2011 while working for a company that was considering a centralized, shared-services model for global HR and payroll. During that project, I learned there were many differences between the two, but that the end goal was always the same. Since becoming one of the first 50 attendees of the American Payroll Association’s (APA) Global Payroll Management Certificate Program that year, I have steadily continued my global payroll education, moved into and out of global payroll roles, and worked diligently to foster a community of other global payroll professionals to keep my knowledge current.
What inspired you to start a global chapter and serve as Chapter President?
I found myself in search of a community comprised of like-minded global payroll professionals like the ones I had at my local APA chapter. I discussed the idea with some of my friends and colleagues at the 2018 Global Payroll Management Forum in National Harbor, Maryland. Everyone agreed that global chapters would be a great benefit to GPMI. So, I made arrangements to have lunch with a global payroll provider, gathered an enthusiastic steering committee of volunteers, and launched the NorCal GPMI Chapter, the first of its kind, in August 2018.
What have you learned in your role as President? What has been most surprising to you?
The most surprising thing to me about the NorCal GPMI Chapter has been the difficulty in choosing relevant and relatable informational presentations for the members. There is a lot of interest in presenting at our quarterly chapter meetings, so having to schedule out many months in advance has also been a surprise.
What do you enjoy most about the chapter?
Always the people! I love to make new friends at every chapter event as well as reconnect with friends and colleagues whom I hold in high regard. Payroll is a stressful career path, and global payroll adds even more complexities to the mix. Having friends, colleagues, and pseudo-therapists in my network who can empathize with my work-related struggles is priceless.
What goals would you like to achieve for your GPMI chapter?
The NorCal GPMI Chapter goals include completing an enormously successful membership drive at the beginning of 2020, planning and holding four quarterly meetings/events for the year, and providing both educational substance and career-focused ideas to our chapter members.
What do you feel makes your chapter unique?
Aside from being the first of its kind, the NorCal GPMI Chapter is unique in that we have access to some of the biggest players in the game sitting in our backyard. Twitter, Facebook, and Google—they are all located right here in Northern California. There is untapped potential for “big data” to be fueled by a superiorly structured global payroll team if the top decision-makers are interested in that type of information.
Do you think your chapter has any challenges specific to your area?
The main challenge that our chapter faces is the struggle to connect and maintain communication with potential chapter members. Our geography is also a challenge in that while our cities are physically situated fairly close to each other, the travel time between locations in Northern California can become prohibitively heavy (but the weather is almost always perfect, so it’s a trade-off).
What kind of networking opportunities do you have?
Through my own work experience, I have become well-connected with many of the global payroll providers, and I am always happy to create introductions and share contact information for the vendors that I am familiar with or have had working relationships with. I also make it a point to remember when any of my colleagues tell me they are looking for their next opportunity. I redirect any opportunities for new roles that are brought to my attention to my friends quickly. I am thrilled to say that some of my introductions have led to fantastic work relationships.
Do you have any personal achievements, hobbies, or interests that you would like to mention? What might someone be surprised to know about you?
The successful launch of the NorCal GPMI is one of my favorite achievements of late. It would not be possible if it weren’t for the amazing team of volunteers who have helped me. My other hobbies and interests include the theater, sprint-car racing, and thinking up new ways to make payroll more successful.
Recently, I also opened my own payroll consulting business, Wages Creek, in September 2019.
Do you have any advice for your fellow global payroll professionals?
There will be phone calls, emails, and instant messages that will come to you throughout your career that ask the same thing over and over again. You may get frustrated. You may get tired of repeating yourself. You may even start thinking of ways to stop the influx of repeat inquiries from being asked. Stop, take a breath, and remember this: job security. If everyone knew what you know, you would no longer need to know it. The human on the other end of that message is just as human as you are. Keep that in mind, be kind, and everything will be fine.
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Caren Bennett is the Editorial Assistant of the Editorial Division of the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).