Jason Farrell, PCP
St. Francis Xavier University – Antigonish, NS
Jason Farrell is a payroll professional who is something of a perfectionist.
If, when balancing accounts, one was off by one cent, most people would be inclined to let it go. Not Jason. “I’m the person who will find the penny,” he says, chuckling.
This exactitude is essential to Jason’s job as the Total Compensation Coordinator at St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Grants are critical for the university and are frequently used to fund research positions. Jason says that it is vital that payroll calculations are accurate since there is precise accountability required for the grants on both the university’s part as well as the funders. “We have to ensure that they don’t exceed their funding budgets and we also don’t want to leave any money on the table,” he says, adding that all the resources must be allocated properly. “We work diligently to ensure those responsibilities are met.”
Jason’s meticulousness and determination is also evident in his personal life. “When I do something, I do it to exhaustion,” he says. For example, although he’s always been sporty, he didn’t take up hockey until age 25, playing for an adult league. “They needed a goalie, so I said, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ I bought a bunch of equipment that was way too small — the goalie pads didn’t come up past my knees — and played four or five nights a week.”
He has had plenty of experience with “learning on the job” in his fifteen years with St. FX. Initially starting as a storage clerk, he became involved with the union when the university unionized a few years later. It was then he realized his interests lay in payroll and HR. He started taking strategic business classes when a position in payroll administration came up. “One requirement of the job was to get my PCP within the first year,” he said, adding that as he learned each aspect of payroll, his manager would add the relevant portion to his responsibilities. “I experienced payroll first-hand while learning it.”
Jason’s current role involves a lot of reporting and data analysis, which he loves. Collective agreements are frequently under review, as St. FX has four unions and one professional group; Jason provides practical analysis such as which groups have the most uptake on different benefits. “When negotiating, we need to know what the cost of various benefits are going to be,” he says. “I provide the data and the analysis to make a decision and to get the best return on investment. This type of analysis helps the University make the best decision to ensure its future success.”
Jason is proud of his contributions to the university’s business wellbeing, and loves life in Antigonish, where he lives with his wife and two children. His family plays many sports — apparently quite well, as his daughter has a black belt in taekwondo. Jason, always eager to perfect something new, is working on his golf game.
It is a safe bet to say that he spends a lot of time analyzing his swing.