Candace Perkins, PLP
Manager of HR, City of Colwood, Colwood, BC
Candace Perkins works in HR now, but she has a lot of passion for payroll.
She works for the City of Colwood, British Columbia which is part of Southern Vancouver Island, where she has lived for the past four decades with her family.
When asked about how she first got into payroll, she admits it happened rather unexpectedly. After completing an Associate of Arts degree, she felt she really hadn’t learned to do anything and had no idea what kind of career to pursue. She took an office administration program and, as part of it, needed to complete a six-month co-op placement which she secured in the accounting department at a tourism sport fishing company. Needless to say, she impressed them, and after completing her program, she was offered a role supporting the payroll team – and something clicked.
Next on her career journey, she took a position at Royal Roads University as a Payroll Associate when the organization was very “young.” It had just transitioned to a public university from a military college – so she witnessed a lot of growth and a lot of change in a short amount of time.
After a decade in payroll, she made the official transition to HR, but even so, her experience made her the obvious choice to remain the primary liaison with the payroll department – so she feels she’s managed to stay closely tied to payroll throughout her career.
That remains true now, in her role at the City as Manager of Human Resources.
“I’m always mindful that everything we do in HR is going to have an impact on payroll,” she says. “For example, when we’re going through bargaining. I always want to consider what this change might mean or how we could administer something in the agreements, and payroll can help to answer those questions.”
Candace says in those kinds of scenarios, she likes to problem solve creatively and she can always count on her payroll peers to think pragmatically about the implications and what might need to be considered, which she appreciates.
She feels that for many people, payroll skills translate well to HR, and vice versa.
“My current HR Coordinator was previously the Payroll Coordinator here, so she seems to be following a similar career path to mine,” she laughs. “But, you know, I love that. I think it’s so great when HR professionals have a good solid understanding and ideally, some practical experience in payroll and finance in general as well.”
She notes however, that the biggest challenge for those moving from payroll to HR can be getting used to operating from black and white, to shades of gray.
“Payroll is very cyclical and structured and often pretty black and white, as most finance type roles are. For a lot of people who transition to HR, it can be challenging to move into the gray where things are less defined and open to interpretation.”
While Candace misses the structure of payroll, she’s happy with her career progression. Moving from the private sector to the public sector, working with unionized employees and non-unionized employees, Candace has really seen it all. But that’s one of the things she loves best about the career she’s built.
“I love understanding all of the different jobs that go into an organization,” she says. She knows that whether its skippers and deckhands, professors, servers, firefighters, IT or admin professionals or maintenance workers, everyone deserves to have their payroll and benefits handled professionally.
While Candace’s day-to-day responsibilities no longer include “running” a payroll, she does note that some day she may consider what she calls “semi-retirement,” from HR which she envisions could potentially include taking on a part-time payroll role.
While she enjoys working in the “gray,” she finds much comfort in the idea of transitioning back to the black and white where her career began.