Editor’s Note: Deveri Stines, CPP, is a Global Consultant who has spent more than 30 years in the payroll industry. She has extensive experience in improving and scaling operational performance for large multinational companies—leading global teams comprised of internal and outsourced HR operations, global payroll, and HRIS. Stines obtained her Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation in 2001 from the American Payroll Association (APA).
What is the changing role of the payroll professional?
Payroll is no longer just a gross-to-net function. With the demands for scalable solutions and global reporting, teams need to be well-versed in data analysis and what this means to the enterprise. Payroll must prove its worth regularly, and the only way to do that is through data. The more automated and efficient the operation, the greater impact it has for the enterprise.
What are the chronic challenges for companies that have moved or are moving into global expansion?
Global expansion is difficult for companies of all sizes. It starts with the overarching hierarchy of the enterprise. Is it an entrepreneurial company or does it operate from a corporate-owned perspective? The approach for global expansion of payroll in these different models is very different and has its own challenges. Entrepreneurial companies tend to operate more like a group of smaller companies, where a corporate-owned approach will drive change from the top down. Both can achieve global expansion successfully, but for the payroll professional, you must be prepared for what each can bring to the table.
What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in payroll?
My team uses a multitude of resources: APA, GPMI, Bloomberg, state sites, governmental agencies, Deloitte, Baker McKenzie, etc. Having a compliance person as part of the payroll team is necessary to keep abreast of all the changes.
How can a payroll department provide support on a strategic level to corporate finance, human resources, and other departments?
Payroll should be part of the planning process when it comes to changes in HR, finance, or workforce planning. When all parties have a seat at the table, the discussion becomes one of a collaborative nature and the results to the employees will be strategic and effective. It’s hard to operationalize an idea that may come from a group that doesn’t necessarily understand the systems in play.
What strategic advice would you give to a company moving from a domestic to a global payroll?
Before making any decisions, do a readiness assessment. How ready are you and your teams to move to global payroll? What challenges do you foresee? How is your company structured? What does it need to look like to be successful?
What have been your experiences on successfully navigating cultural and other differences on a worldwide stage?
Cultural differences are one of the most difficult items to navigate in global payroll. As payroll professionals, we know that not all payrolls are equal, and we can learn those nuances. However, there are many other aspects that should be recognized. For example, our systems are typically very U.S.- centric. Payroll professionals in the global arena need to understand the culture of the employees they are employing on their team and those they are paying and providing service to. There is a book called “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” that is a guide to doing business in other countries. I highly recommend reading the chapters of the countries you support. It’s very entertaining!
What would you like to see payroll vendors address in the next three years?
I would love to see the payroll vendors be able to address the globally mobile population. Most vendors cannot handle dual records, which causes manual work on payroll.
How did you get started in your career?
My career started in the accounting world. I was an accountant for a small manufacturing firm, then moved into controllership, which included payroll. I found that I really enjoyed payroll and the laws associated with it. I spent several years as an Employment Tax Consultant and just continued to grow my payroll experience to where it is today. Payroll is ever-changing, and it’s truly my passion.
What kinds of skills, training, and education would be most useful for someone moving into a managerial role in payroll?
Moving into management requires the shift from technical to strategic. Good payroll people are by nature technical, so I would recommend that a payroll person who wants to move into management first know their own strengths and development opportunities. Concentrate on the soft skills that are required as part of the people side of management. Additionally, the skills needed to think strategically and make decisions will become key. There are many classes available to help you learn these skills. Lastly, find a mentor who can help you navigate your new career in management.
What career and life advice do you give to a new employee in payroll?
Be humble and don’t give up. Keep your customer, the employee, in the forefront. Keep learning and know that if you make a mistake, and you will, it can always be fixed!
What professional and personal challenges have you faced as you moved into global payroll from domestic payroll?
The biggest challenge to overcome is the stigma that other country payrolls are so different that a U.S. person couldn’t possibly understand the complexity. It takes patience, collaboration, and understanding to assure others that it’s not that different. Yes, there are country nuances, but “gross-to-net” is still “gross-to-net.”
What is your management and leadership approach today?
A global organization requires the ability to manage teams in a virtual environment. My approach is one of collaboration and inclusion. It’s easy to get stuck in your own world when working virtually and making sure to be inclusive in your approach to teamwork helps. Additionally, utilizing tools like Teams or Webex and their video options brings the teams together in a different way.
How does one incorporate professional development into the lifestyle of a full-time job?
This is a tough one, as many people will say there isn’t any time. My mantra is that you are in control of your own career. To continue to develop, you must make the time to develop yourself. I set two development goals per year for myself and every member of my team. Each quarter I make time to work toward those personal goals, whether it’s to attend a webinar, read a book, take a class, or just have self-reflection time, I set it aside and block my calendar. At the end of the year, I reflect on my personal and professional development and plan for the next year.
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Frank J. Mendelson is Acquisitions Editor for the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).