An Interview with Steve Bevan, Global Payroll Lead, Itron, Inc.

So far we’ve brought you 4 pieces in our ‘Barden Payroll Series’. The series was launched with the aim of giving the payroll profession in Ireland some really great specialist advice to help with their professional future.

This time, instead of us providing you with that advice, we’ve decided to leave it to the experts working in this field.

Introducing Steve Bevan, Senior Manager of Global Payroll, Itron Inc.

In this instalment of the ‘Barden Payroll Series’ Tara Higgins (Senior Associate, with our Cork team) met with Steve Bevan, Senior Manager of Global Payroll with Itron Inc., to gain an insight into what it’s like to lead and develop a global payroll team.

Steve’s Early Career

Steve started off his career in the HR space and running the weekly payroll at that point was part of the HR role.

“I remember thinking at the time it was a bit strange how at the end of each week people got paid in cash. The big challenge in payroll back then was to convince people to actually get paid money into their banks.”

From there Steve began working on automating processes for payroll. He began looking at different software, to aid automation, and always wanted to know how to improve things. To get to the bottom of this he started programming and writing reports.

“For me it’s really important to not just rely on technology but to understand how payroll works, top to bottom.”

Having had a strong sporting background, he was then able to transfer his leadership experience into the payroll function and loved helping people meet their own ambitions.

Joining Itron

Steve joined Itron in September 2018 and is heading up the Global Payroll Team, who cover the US and Canada, EMEA and the rest of the world.

Itron is a global company that enables utilities and cities to deliver critical infrastructure services including electricity, gas and water resources, to communities in more than 100 countries. With over 8,000 people around the globe, Itron established its global business services centre in Cork city in 2014.

Since joining his main role has been to help lead the team to the next level, focusing mainly on putting robust processes in place to help develop the payroll team, changing the team structure, streamlining the payroll systems, establishing new procedures to make sure the function is robust, introducing development plans and enabling those on the team to become more skilled in the payroll function.

“For me Itron is a great company for people to truly learn how to run payroll. I joined in September 2018. It was fantastic to join a company that had a great payroll team already in place but who wanted to truly take it to the next level. I’d love for those who work in payroll in Itron to understand how valuable their role is to the organisation and how it impacts on the GL function and overall finance.”

A Vision for a Place of Learning

To have achieved all of the above in just 5 months is a great success in leading any team, however Steve stresses none of it is possible without the people.

“My dream is for a really professional team that is run in a very professional manner. A big part of that for me is to do with individual and team development. My vision is for Itron and the team to be a place of learning. But to achieve that the right support structures need to be in place.”

A first step in establishing those support structures was to build the team, including the introduction of new managers and team leads.

“It’s important for each person to own their career plan, however the right support needs to be there to enable them to achieve their career goals and work towards their professional future. Building the management team was one step in ensuring Itron is fulfilling the development needs of their staff.”

Part of this meant ensuring regular one-to-one meetings were taking place, and that a robust and repeatable on-boarding process was in place for each person who joined covering plans for day one, week one and month one.

Payroll & The Positive Impact on the Rest of the Business

For anyone working in payroll it’s well known that payroll plays a pivotal role in any business and can add greater value to an organisation. Something which Steve truly believes. However, ensuring this is understood outside of the payroll team can often be a challenge.

“In early January we rolled out a KPI pack which outlines payroll’s performance to the larger group. We also introduced the sharing of queries that arise with the wider organisation…essentially any payroll query that arises is logged, the response rate and volume of those queries is published on a monthly basis. In publishing the query we’ve also outlined how it’s been resolved, demonstrating how we as a team can resolve each query as it comes up!”

The Future of Payroll in Ireland

As the lead of a global payroll team based in Ireland, we couldn’t leave Steve without asking about his thoughts on the future of payroll in Ireland.

“Given the multinationals that landed on Ireland’s shores I see a really great future for payroll in Ireland. Payroll is a complex function, with many different aspects including tax, legislation, stock complications and global mobility awards. This in itself provides massive opportunities for people to specialise in a certain area of payroll. There are a lot of merits in it as a career path.”

“These experts are very much sought after. We have a number of experts sitting in our payroll team and it gives the organization a great degree of comfort that these experts form part of their payroll function.”

Steve also believes that the payroll function provides many opportunities for individuals to develop their leadership skills, which are easily transferrable to other areas of finance and business.

Although there are some networks, events, qualifications and organisations in place to support those in payroll Steve feels there is plenty of scope to develop this and essentially to bring the payroll family closer together. For example, the establishment of a payroll forum would be welcome to allow payrollers a space to discuss common issues and support each other in identifying solutions.

And Finally, What Do You Think Makes a Good Payroller?

Steve would love to give people who join Itron, the experience they are missing to become a great payroll professional.

“To me to make a good payroller you’ve got to be numerate, bright, flexible, robust and a really good team player. It’s a fast-moving role at times and people need to be able to help one another out, there’s no time for “that’s not my job” in a properly running payroll function.”

Barden’s Payroll Series

Recently launched the Barden Payroll Series aims to deliver payroll focused content and interviews with the payroll profession, and shine a spotlight on payroll as a career in the Irish market. Feel free to get in touch with Tara Higgins or Niamh Ennis if you’d like to have a chat about the payroll market, career opportunities, building your payroll team or have an idea for a blog.

To view the other blogs in our series, click the links below…

Getting Your Payroll CV Just Right 

PAYE Modernisation…What Has It Got To Do With Me? 

The Difference Between In-House and Outsourced Payroll 

Continuous development, quick progression and notable rewards…just some of the reasons why you should consider a career in payroll. 

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there!

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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