Karen Wharam MCIPPdip
Payroll advisory officer
How did you start your payroll career?
I have worked for Local Government since leaving school, starting my career in the Revenues Section. After many years providing customer service to the public an opportunity arose for a position in the payroll section, I was successful in my application, and I've never looked back. I have spent 20 years within the payroll department whilst also raising a family.
Did you study a specific course to help you in your career?
Not long after I had moved to the payroll department, the Local Authority decided they were going to outsource the function of payroll for a set period. As I was new in the role, I decided I needed to gain as much experience as possible to be able to retain my position with any potential new employer. In 2005 I gained my diploma in payroll management with CIPP, this has been beneficial in moving forward my career and gave me the knowledge I needed to be the best that I could possibly be. I also gained a professional qualification in Customer Service during the same period which helps in my Advisory role.
Was there a moment in your career/life that made you want to enter a career in payroll?
In my very early days working with the local borough council, I was seconded to the Expenditure section for a period of time. This section dealt with many things, right to buy scheme, creditors and payroll. I thoroughly enjoyed working in this section especially in payroll and was sad to leave when I moved to a Revenues post. The seed was sown and I knew that I would eventually return to working within payroll at some point in my career.
How do you feel when you know you have made a positive difference to someone through your advice?
It really does put a smile on my face when I’ve helped solve a member’s query. The sense of pride and achievement is a great feeling and spurs me on. I feel I’m at my best when helping others.
Tell us about a typical week as an advisory team member?
No two days are the same, it’s very fast paced and some of the questions can be quite puzzling. We’re a very friendly bunch and have regular team chats regarding new issues that have cropped up. We can spend hours researching legislation to make sure the advice we are giving is up to date and correct.
What type of skills does an advisory member need?
Excellent communication skills are vital, being a good listener and an excellent problem solver are key. We also need to be able to work under pressure as it can get very busy and coming from a payroll background this is second nature to me.
What's the most interesting fact you've heard about payroll?
A couple of fun facts about payroll – at least one piece of payroll legislation that is still in effect, dates back more than 150 years, and the Beatles released the song Taxman in 1966 to protest against the 95% supertax they were paying at the time.
Where do you receive your updates?
The CIPP Policy Team, HMRC & DPW to name but a few sites that we use.
What techniques do you use to provide accurate answers?
Plenty of research and provide evidence with links to legislation and HMRC guidance showing where the information has come from.
What processes do you use to keep you up to date with general legislation?
Constant research and sharing knowledge with other team members. Keeping up to date with guidance and any relevant changes. Lots and lots of reading.