Senior Payroll Advisor, Telus, Calgary, AB
Ally Clemmensen really loves payroll.
When asked about her hobbies, she laughs sheepishly and admits that payroll is not only her career, but her hobby as well. Her day-job is a Senior Payroll Advisor for Telus, but she also volunteers as the Vice Chair of the National Payroll Institute’s Calgary branch, and the Director of HR for Sleep in Heavenly Peace Canada, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to ensure no child has to sleep on the floor.
“I know that you’re supposed to have hobbies outside of what you do for a living,” she jokes. “And my husband yells at me (playfully) for it all the time. But I love what I do.”
One thing that is abundantly clear is that Ally has a big heart and likes to give back however she can. She also loves to mentor up and coming payroll professionals, and rescues animals.
A self-proclaimed payroll-geek, she absolutely lights up when asked to talk about her career. But like so many, Ally fell into payroll unexpectedly. When working at a call center for Weston Bakeries, the Production Manager noticed her work ethic and offered her a job as his administrative assistant. When the need for payroll support arose, he confidently said “Ally can do it.”
“I was so nervous,” she says. “I was like, this is payroll. These are people’s lives. But he believed I could do it, so I started taking courses and that helped me to believe in myself. Then I started realizing how important this position was. Once I started connecting with other payroll professionals it was just incredible. And then I realized that this is what I love doing.”
The rest is history.
Originally, Ally went to school for Psychology and Social Work, and she finds she uses the strategies she learned there a lot in her payroll career. She explains that not only does she believe her role is to ensure employees are paid accurately and on time, but also to make sure that she’s there to help them and support them in times of need.
“It’s not until somebody has an issue that they usually come to a payroll professional. But when they come to you, and you’re able to help them, whether that’s to feel more confident about their retirement or help them understand how they can go about getting EI if they need it, it’s a great feeling. As a payroll professional, you can really make a difference for people.”
Ally’s number one goal is truly to help others. And she sees so much opportunity in the future to leverage technology, and specifically artificial intelligence, to do just that.
“AI will be able to help answer the basic questions in payroll, but it isn’t going to be able to apply that human touch to figure out how to help an individual. It might be able to identify that a employee’s hours have been cut, but it won’t look and say ‘I understand you’re running into financial hardship, why don’t I help you by splitting up some payments or pause your stocks for a couple of pay periods, so you don’t miss your mortgage payment.’ On the contrary, it will give payroll professionals more time to think that way.”
Luckily for Ally, at Telus, she’s found a company that aligns with her values and continues to challenge her daily with new and exciting payroll initiatives.
“You would think after being in payroll 20 plus years that you know everything, but no. There’s so much out there that you can keep learning.”
For those thinking about joining the payroll field, she encourages them to ask themselves if they’re ready to go the extra mile – because payroll is so much more than pushing a button.
“Payroll isn’t just a job,” she says. “It’s a career.”