Director of Payroll Karen Phillips was recently honored by the American Payroll Association (APA), receiving a citation of merit for her work on the APA's Strategic Payroll Leadership Task Force.
In her position with the task force, Phillips focuses on connecting higher education payroll professionals so they can develop and share best practices in the field.
Payroll is much more than simply pushing numbers, says Phillips. "You have to be proactive about things that are coming down the pike, staying one step ahead of industry, policy, and technological changes that can affect how an organization processes payment to its employees," she says. "We touch everyone's paycheck—from a student who’s never worked before to someone who’s retiring."
Phillips did not plan on a career in payroll. Returning to work after the birth of her daughter, she landed a role as a payroll assistant at Swarthmore in 1994. Since those early days, she notes, the field has grown and changed significantly—an evolution that continues to keep her engaged and interested in her work.
"It is nice to be recognized, particularly in a field where sometimes it can feel like you don’t get noticed unless [you’re fixing] something that went wrong," she says, jokingly.