Carbon paper to API links – how payroll and my career have changed

Louise moved to Aberdeen and started working at AAB 6 years ago. She reflects on how time has flown and although her route to AAB was long and winding, the experience gained along the way has been invaluable.

AAB Life Blog

Blog29th Jan 2021

I moved to Aberdeen and started working at AAB 6 years ago now. It’s scary how time flies! My route to AAB was long and winding but the experience gained along the way has been invaluable.

After obtaining my Geology degree in London, and when it being clear that my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut was simply that – a childhood dream, I worked in various PA and accounts roles to try and figure out what I wanted to do and what industry I wanted to work in. When my husband’s job took us up to Moray I ended up working for a large multi-national, learning payroll from an old-school stickler who insisted we know how to calculate payroll manually. This brilliant grounding was later cemented by some payroll qualifications and that was me up and running in my payroll career.

So why have I stuck with payroll all this time(for over 17 years)? It offered the right balance between technical challenges and personal interactions which meant a lot of problem solving and lovely sums, as well as the chance to build strong relationships with colleagues and clients.

It quickly became apparent that these relationships were really important – not least because payroll usually occupies the middle ground in an organization between the HR and Finance functions, with input from and outputs to both. Understanding how actions in payroll affect and are affected by these areas is key to building a really effective payroll service and ensuring that the employees being paid are always put first.

My husband and I moved up and down the country several times, and the changing scenery exposed me to various payroll jobs along the way. This included some roles in the not-for-profit and public sectors which really opened my eyes to how many payroll processes were being done manually, either because of software constraints or simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Some of the pensions administration I was exposed to was like stepping back in time – manually filling out forms in triplicate because records had not been computerized seemed Dickensian!

When I joined at AAB’s payroll team in 2014 it was my first time in a payroll bureau, which was a steep learning curve as it is very different to in-house payroll. That said the fundamentals are the same and my experience in understanding the needs of in-house HR and Finance teams really helped me in building good relationships with my clients. I have some really great clients, and like to feel that I’m part of their team as much as I am our amazing payroll team.

Our team dynamic really is fundamental to our success, and that was apparent from when I first started.  As well as processing some of the larger payrolls my role involved day to day management of the team workloads, payments and processes. The managerial aspects of the role have evolved massively since I started as both the team and our client base has expanded, and we’ve polished and refined roles and responsibilities as we’ve learned along the way.

What hasn’t changed is how closely we all have to work together to deliver for our clients and stay on top of ever-changing legislation. Never has that been more important than over the last year! If I thought we were there for each other before, 2020 has blown me away in terms of the commitment and adaptability of my colleagues in embracing home working, government guidance changing on a sometimes daily basis and picking up the reins for another when the vagaries of lockdown life got in the way. I really am very, very proud of them and of what we all achieved last year.

Ok…enough gushing! Throughout my time at AAB I’ve been impressed with the firm’s willingness to investigate and adopt new technologies to drive process improvements and provide more seamless solutions for our clients. This is where my focus now lies on a day-to-day basis – working to deliver process improvements by leveraging new technology where we can and testing and implementing new software. There are many exciting technological advancements happening that can improve and add value to what we do…direct API links for instance to allow the unhindered flow of information between HR, Payroll and Finance teams (Yes that old chestnut again!).

I really never want to be in the position of having to fill out forms in triplicate using carbon paper again, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be exploring these brave new worlds at AAB!

By Louise McCabe, Payroll Assistant Manager

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