Carmala Thiessen, PCP
Payroll Coordinator, the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Saskatoon, SK
Originally from Alberta, Carmala Thiessen now calls Saskatoon, Saskatchewan home. With her husband, and their two daughters, aged 22 and 24, it’s fair to say they live a bright and happy life – which is ironic, considering they met at a cemetery (when they were both working there)!
Before relocating, they lived in Calgary but found it was getting a bit too busy for their liking – Saskatoon strikes the perfect balance. They enjoy getting out with the dog, enjoying the peace, quiet and nature around them.
At the cemetery where Carmala and her husband met, she was working as a branch administrator, and payroll wasn’t even on her radar. It wasn’t until after they made the move to Saskatoon, when she took a job with the Gabriel Dumont Institute as an Accounting Clerk that she was first acquainted with payroll.
“About a month in, I was asked if I wanted to learn payroll,” she says. “The person that oversaw it was working alone and struggling and so I thought, ‘well, why not? It’s something new and challenging,’ so I gave it a shot. About six weeks later, she quit! So I had to just pick up the pieces and figure it out. And I did.”
Soon after, she decided to get her PCP designation which helped immensely.
“Just learning the ins and outs and how payroll works gave me more confidence. I had some experience by that point, so I kind of had an idea, but I only knew what we do at my company. Every organization is different. So, it was interesting to learn how other companies handle payroll and all the other things that are involved that we don’t necessarily see here.”
Carmala still works at the Gabriel Dumont Institute but is now a Payroll Coordinator. She likes that payroll is “black and white.” There are rules and policies to follow – which appeals to her. However, she notes that no two days are exactly the same. In fact, she’s currently working on a major project in collaboration with the other Saskatchewan colleges to unify on a common payroll system.
“There’s always something changing. There are always things that come up and test you to figure out, and I like the challenge,” she says. While the thought of automation worries many people, Carmala is all for it.
“The more we can get automated, the more accurate we can be. If you let them, these systems can help you.”
She also finds that in recent years, employee awareness has increased when it comes to payroll. She finds that due to the nature of the economy, employees are paying more attention to their pay. To help, Carmala and her team put together educational content to share with their organization’s program coordinators or managers to help communicate when there are changes or updates that affect them.
For those thinking about a career in payroll, Carmala would encourage them to go for it.
“It’s a great career, because you know you have a future in it. No matter what, people need to be paid.”