Warren Sawatzky, CPM
RBC Convention Centre – Winnipeg, MB
Warren Sawatzky is a payroll professional whose workplace is a lesson in duality.
He is the Director of HR at Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre, where events bring a wide array of crowds. “There will be a line up for a fancy gala, then you go around the corner and come upon a line up for a Comicon convention,” he says. “Tuxedoes and super heroes — there’s no other workplace where you have that!”
Warren has worked for the Convention Centre for 11 years; now on the executive team, he has deep roots in payroll. His first after-school job was with Purolator, where he assisted with paying the couriers. “Back in the old days, with physical pay cheques, I had to come in before 6 a.m. to get the cheques in order to deliver them to the couriers on time.”
Nowadays, he has a professional payroll department to back him up, but adds that he is still very involved in the day-to-day payroll operations. “Every HR decision impacts payroll and governs what is important to employees,” he says. “I bring my payroll knowledge to the executive table.”
At strategic planning meetings, Warren says he thinks about the implications of decisions that may have unforeseen payroll consequences. “If we’re thinking about gift ideas or recognition programs, I will say, ‘You might think you’re being nice, but you are forgetting that you have to tell the employees that they have to pay tax on this’.”
For Warren, payroll itself is all about duality. He knows his payroll knowledge contributes to the business wellness of the Convention Centre, as he brings analysis of payroll data to budgetary decisions, thereby saving on the bottom line, while simultaneously keeping what matters to employees on the top line. “It’s about striking that balance about what’s best for the business AND the employee.”
Warren passes on his accrued knowledge by teaching payroll courses for the National Payroll Institute at Red River College. He also gives back to his community by serving on the Special Olympics Manitoba Board of Directors, where he chairs the HR committee. This provides another avenue for him to use his payroll and HR expertise he says: “We act as a kind of think tank for the CEO of a smaller organization in Manitoba,” he says. “It’s a great way to share.”
Perhaps Warren could use a super hero costume himself.