Mentors in Payroll – Who, How & Why?


Working in payroll and considering enlisting the help and support of a mentor? Finding the right mentor can be a challenge. In the next instalment of our ‘Barden Payroll Series’, Tara Higgins, Senior Associate in our Cork office, gives the low down on the who, how and why when it comes to choosing THE best mentor for you…

The Who?

Lecturers and managers will teach you the payroll principles; exams will test your understanding but mentors will be the ones to guide, advise and help you apply these principles in the real world.

As experts in payroll careers, we hear on a daily basis that the majority of people get their experience in payroll on the job and it’s not always a prerequisite to have studied payroll specifically. Both myself and my colleague, Niamh Ennis, have discovered that this means having a strong mentor in payroll has never been so important to ensure you can expand your skillset and develop your technical abilities.

A mentor is someone who has “been there, done that”; someone who has travelled the same path that you are currently on, but happens to be a little further down the road.  They understand the twists and turns you may encounter on your journey; they have clear visibility of the road ahead and will help you navigate your way to success.

A valuable mentor will constructively share their experiences with you, take a personal interest in your development, and has the ability and knowledge to provide objective feedback at key moments in your career.

The How?

Finding the right mentor can be a tricky task.  You might get lucky and work for an exceptional manager who is invested in your future, and naturally assumes the role of your mentor. However, not every manager has the appetite, nor the ability, to be an effective mentor. Identifying a suitable mentor can often require outside the box thinking. Below are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.     Who was sitting in my seat before me and where are they now?

If they are in the same organisation, great! Link in with them and suggest a casual meeting to gain some insights into their career journey. If they have moved on from the organisation, don’t hesitate to drop them a note asking if you can buy them a cup of coffee, as you would like to get their advice.  If you get on well, don’t be shy about asking them to meet again for further advice; people in Ireland generally love being asked their opinion! Use this to your advantage and a mentor relationship may organically develop.

2.     Your mentor does not necessarily have to be a payroll expert!

Within your circle of family and friends, you may have a connection that has enjoyed a high degree of professional success. Ask around and you may be pleasantly surprised at what your uncle, wife’s brother or second cousin actually does for a living! A casual conversation is often a fruitful source of useful advice.

3.     Your mentor does not necessarily need to be in business

As well as providing career advice, your mentor can also assist you in developing your “soft skills”. Coaches, local sports team managers and similar figures can be legitimate alternatives to a more traditional mentor as they often possess the key skills pivotal to success.

4.     Take every opportunity to network

With the Irish Payroll Association, Global Payroll Association and Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Ireland running more and more payroll focused events and with well-known payroll providers providing workshops in Ireland in relation to HR Law and PAYE Modernisation, it’s getting easier and easier for payroll professionals to gather together in one place, network and share a common bond. By coming together, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge, learn something new and not to mention you could even end up making invaluable professional connections and meet someone you admire in your industry and gain a mentor.

A lot of people opt to pursue the IPASS qualification which as well as giving you a professional qualification can be another excellent way to network and meet others walking the same path as you are.

The Why?

A purposeful, effective and committed mentor can play a crucial role in both your professional and personal development in the coming years. The absence of such an influential individual can often slow down your career trajectory and lead you off-course on your path to success.

If you strive to find the right mentor for you; put on your thinking cap and seek them out – it will be more than worth your while if you do!

Mentors in Payroll – Who, How & Why? …. brought to you by Barden Accounting & Tax


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 the payroll team today on

Want more of our payroll blogs?

The Barden Payroll Series aims to deliver payroll focused content and interviews with the payroll profession, and to 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…

#1: Getting Your Payroll CV Just Right

#2: PAYE Modernisation

#3: Difference between in-house and outsourced payroll

#4: Why You Should Consider a Career in Payroll

#5: INTERVIEW – Steve Bevan, Itron

#6: How to Secure Your First Role in Payroll

#7: Interview Advice for Payroll Professionals  

#8: LinkedIn for Payroll Professionals 


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 and we will take it from there. Easy.