In the November/December 2016 issue of Dialogue Magazine, they featured an interview with Michele Neilson of Coleman’s and we thought that the interview was so good that we asked if we could republish it for you to see… Enjoy.
‘How did you begin your career?’
After attending college for Office Administration, I started working as a cashier at one of Colemans’ grocery stores in August 1996. In September 1997, I applied for and was appointed to a position at our head office as an Office Clerk. Within a few months, I was promoted to a Payroll/HR position and in April 2001, I was promoted to the role of Payroll Manager. Colemans introduced me to the CPA and since then it has become an important part of my career advancement.
‘What do you find most rewarding about your work?’
I love that we help employees on a daily basis. The feeling you get when you help someone is very rewarding. After all, the work we do is all about the employees. We are there to ensure they get rewarded for the work they do. Our reward is knowing they are looked after to the best of our ability. This is something all payroll practitioners strive for.
‘Tell me more about how you got involved with the CPA.’
I joined the CPA in 2001 and quickly worked towards my Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) certification. Over the years, I have attended several Professional Development Seminars, which definitely helped me advance in my career. Most recently, I have taken on the position of Key Subject Matter Expert for the CPA in Corner Brook. I hold Network and Share sessions in the area. This has been something that I have enjoyed tremendously. I have met a lot of new people and learned many things. I hope to increase the member involvement in our area.
‘Why was it important for you to get involved with the CPA?’
I have been a member of the CPA for 15 years. The Association provides me with guidance on many new and upcoming payroll compliance issues and changes to the payroll profession. It has helped guide me to the career I am in today. Volunteering with the CPA is a way I can give back to the organization which has given so much to me.
‘What can payroll practitioners learn from networking?’
Networking provides the opportunity to meet new people, learn from their experience and expand your personal knowledge. Through networking, I have gained so much information that has supported my professional development as a payroll practitioner. Networking takes commitment but is very rewarding. No matter how much you know, there are always new things to learn.
‘How should payroll practitioners prepare themselves for year-end?’
Year-end is a very busy time for payroll practitioners. There is always so much work to do in such a short amount of time. Make a plan before you start. Prioritizing your work and reconciling throughout the year will help the process run smoothly.
‘Can you tell me about a challenge you’ve faced on the job and how you overcame it?’
There is one thing that always comes to mind when I am asked this question. I was processing a payroll around Easter; we had worked on a Sunday because Good Friday fell in the pay week and we wanted to pay Thursday instead of Friday. However, the pay date was not adjusted to Thursday; it was left as Friday. Our employees’ expectation was that they would be paid on Thursday. It was a high pressure situation but we worked hard to find successful resolution. It was definitely the most challenging incident in my career. We laugh about it now, but we didn’t back then!
‘What do you do in your spare time?’
When I do have spare time, I spend time with my husband and two children. Both of my children have a love for basketball, so we spend many weekends in the gym watching them play.
Michele Neilson, PCP, is the Payroll Manager for the Coleman Group of Companies, where she is responsible for preparing, processing, remitting and managing a bi-weekly payroll for 800 employees across five organizations. She makes this all possible with the support of a great team, her organization, the Canadian Payroll Association and her payroll software provider.
This article is provided courtesy of The Canadian Payroll Association. For more information, including membership, certification, and professional development, please visit www.payroll.ca