An Interview with Grant Thornton's Miranda Humphries, Associate Director - Global Payroll
So far we’ve brought you a variety of pieces in our ‘Barden Payroll Series’. The series was launched with the aim of giving payroll professionals in Ireland some really great specialist advice to help with their professional future.
To follow on from our last leadership interview with Steve Bevan of Itron, this time Niamh Ennis, Associate with Barden, caught up with Miranda Humphries, Associate Director of Global Payroll in Grant Thornton, to learn more about how her team is responding to the evolving payroll landscape, the changing needs of multinationals and what she sees for the future of payroll service provision.
Being Ahead of the Curve
It comes as no surprise that the delivery of global payroll has transformed exponentially in the last 20 years and is continuing to evolve as we see a push towards enhanced technology and automation to ensure more efficient practices in a payroll function. With this emerging trend, Miranda explained why creating and delivering expert solutions is pivotal for global businesses.
“Each day, we see more and more demand for a higher level of service from multinational start-ups who are ambitious, assertive and rapidly expanding their global presence. For us, we need to be one step ahead and have the solutions before they come looking.”
A Flexible, Responsive Structure
To respond to the needs of multinationals aligning their payroll functions with the future, the team has broken down the delivery of their service into three distinct branches; coordination of global payroll, project management and advisory. This can include anything from supporting payroll provider transitions, onsite support and delivery and payroll process reviews to designing tailor made solutions.
“Because the businesses we work with are so technically demanding, due to their complex structures and multi-jurisdictional presence, there is a growing need for multinationals to establish a long-term partnership with a team of experts who have in depth payroll knowledge and experience to deliver domestic and international payroll solutions. It’s no longer enough to be a service provider, it’s about being a strategic and supportive partner.”
By creating a partnership approach that allows for flexibility, the team has the capability to deliver a higher level of service to provide a complete and bespoke service offering to respond to the shift in business needs. Key for Miranda and the team is establishing one point of contact for each client, who is an expert in payroll solutions and that can support their in-house payroll function from the initial phone call right through to implementation and delivery.
“We fully understand that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to payroll. For example, one of the businesses we work with operates payroll in over 20 different jurisdictions. If we were to provide them with an off the shelf offering, it just wouldn’t work. We need to be able to look at the bigger picture to design, create and deliver a bespoke service that meets their specific needs.”
The development of globalisation for businesses has also resulted in a major shift towards global mobility of people. This has drastically influenced how businesses are rewarding their people. For example, changing legislation further adds to the complexity for multinationals when looking at benefits, such as equity or stock plans, which is influencing how we ensure fair and equitable rewards for employees across the world. When it comes to payroll, Miranda and the team know that economies of scale are harder to achieve to ensure people are rewarded equally regardless of their location. The same level of detail, knowledge and expertise is required whether it’s for 3 or 800 employees in a business.
“More often than not, these multinationals don’t have the time, resources or expertise to navigate complexities like this. They want a partner who can take the pain out of figuring this all out, who can provide an efficient solution, and who has the network on the ground to deliver what is needed.”
No Two Days Are the Same
As things can change and move so quickly, it goes without saying that Miranda and the team have to demonstrate a high level of problem solving, flexibility and adaptability. Not only has the team continually expanded in the last 18 months but additionally, in response to the emerging trend of finance hubs in Cork, the team has recently established a presence there to support their business needs.
“Since I’ve joined, I don’t think two days have ever been the same! Of course, there is structure and deadlines, but we do need a high degree of agility to be able to respond to the opportunities to advise, guide and partner with different businesses across various industries. For us, it’s about being ok with not necessarily having the answers all of the time. It’s about being able to ask the right questions.”
A key element of being a part of the team is the opportunity for secondment which Miranda explains has advantages from both perspectives. By bringing the team onsite to work closely on the delivery of a project, the client benefits from the knowledge transfer, skills and expertise of our team, while the team can benefit greatly from the exposure and varied experience with the opportunity to grow their skillset. Not to mention the change in scenery!
“One of our experts recently went on secondment to work with our biggest client on the transition of 26 payrolls in one month, which you can imagine was a busy and demanding project! When they came back, we found they had such great energy and ambition to take on even more opportunities and to continue developing.”
The Future of Payroll is Happening Right Now
As global payroll continues to evolve with more of an emphasis on real time reporting, artificial intelligence and the translation of data into valuable information, every business is experiencing change in their payroll function. This matched with changing and expanding client needs, and a requirement for a higher level of service, is calling for the provision of agile, bespoke and expert payroll solutions.
Grant Thornton’s team are the perfect example of a proactive, progressive, agile and innovative service provider who are clearly ahead of the curve, and who are leading the way when it comes to the provision of global payroll services.
Need help achieving your Payroll ambitions?
We’re laser focused on your future. Here to help you achieve your ambitions, our team of experts are ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice along with cutting edge market insights. So get in touch with Niamh Ennis or Tara Higgins in our Payroll team today.
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