Payroll Certification Held in High Regard in Business

Riccardo Silvestro


Q: Tell us a little bit about teaching in the payroll management program.
A: I instruct the payroll certification courses here at MRU, delivered by the Canadian Payroll Association. All the courses and materials are from the Canadian Payroll Association and they issue the certifications. In order to get into payroll as a career, certification is more and more a necessary for becoming a payroll practitioner, and these are the nationally recognized credentials.

I instruct the first course and last course of certification. I specialize in Payroll Fundamentals II, which covers all year-end processes such as generating T4 slips and pay statements as well as remittances to comply with regulatory bodies.

Q: What’s your background?
A: I started out working in payroll and went on to take certification through the Canadian Payroll Association at MRU. I was just like the the students that I’m teaching now. From there I branched off into benefits and compensation, to grow my career in HR. Payroll really gave me that stepping stone. Now my full-time job is team lead for a compensation, benefits and payroll group for a chemical manufacturing company in Calgary, Canexus.

Q: Have there been a lot of changes in the payroll world?
A: If you look back 20 years, payroll used to be seen as more of a backroom clerical function. It wasn’t really seen as a profession that needed certification. The Canadian Payroll Association is not an old organization compared to the accounting profession – they just celebrated their 40th year. In the last 20 years the CPA really evolved payroll to be held in higher regard within the company. Certification is now sought by organizations because that function is critical. It’s so necessary to be accurate and on time for employees. Payroll professionals have high visibility within the organization.

Q: What type of learner would really love this career?
A: Definitely “people” people – those who like to work with other individuals. Payroll has a lot of customer service aspects: the employees are the customers. At the end of the day, if they have a question on their pay statement we need to be able to explain it and help them out. Within that payroll function, you also have internal and external stakeholders.

Someone who has good communication skills but also likes accuracy and detail, and applying their attention to detail to their work to get accurate results, is ideally suited to payroll.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of this kind of career?
A: Knowing that you’re responsible for ensuring that employees have money in their accounts to purchase what they need and support their families. The payroll person has satisfaction in knowing that if you’re paying employees on time and accurately, they have their money and can then live their lives.

With the year-end processes, it’s also important to make sure employees have accurate information.

Q: What do you like most about being an instructor?
A: I like to see former students two or three years later at a payroll association conferences and hear how they’re doing. They’re certified and off on their payroll career. That’s a huge reward right there.  As well I love to hear about the experiences my students bring to the class. I enjoy gaining a new network and meeting new people.


ce_bio_payroll_silvestroAbout Riccardo Silvestro, CPM
Riccardo Silvestro is a human resources professional specializing in the areas of payroll, compensation and benefits, with over 13 years experience in the field.

His experience ranges from small to large scale companies operating in land development, mining/explosives, oil and gas extraction, and chemical manufacturing. He has broad experience with complex multi-provincial payrolls in unionized environments.

During the course of his career, Riccardo has held positions as Human Resources & Compensation Coordinator, Compensation Advisor & Payroll Supervisor, and Team Lead of Payroll & HR Management Systems.

Riccardo is currently the Team Lead of Compensation, Benefits and Payroll at Canexus Corporation, a chemical manufacturing, oil and gas transloading company with operations in North and South America.

Riccardo’s educational qualifications include a Business Administration Diploma with a major in finance from SAIT, the Canadian Payroll Association’s (CPA’s) Certified Payroll Manager (CPM) certification, and a Certificate in Adult Education from Mount Royal University. He is currently pursuing the World at Work Association’s Certified Compensation Professional Certification.

Riccardo is an active member of various local and nationwide human resources networks and industry groups, including the World at Work Society (W@W), Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA), Calgary Total Rewards Network (CTRN), Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) and Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute (CPBI).

He volunteers with the CPA as Subject Matter Expert, is branch member of the CPA Prairie Region and since 2009, has volunteered with Canada Revenue Agency in the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Riccardo enjoys educating and coaching payroll professionals or those interested in establishing a payroll career. He has been an instructor in the CPA’s Payroll Compliance Practitioner program at Mount Royal University since 2007.

— photo by Krystal Hurt

Job Grant Helps Organizations Pay for Employee Training


In today’s knowledge economy, organizations need well-trained employees to remain competitive. To help cover the cost of employee training, the Canadian government has introduced a job grant program. The program is part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan but is administered at the provincial level.

ce_content_ABGrant_handThe Canada-Alberta Job Grant covers two-thirds of the cost of employee training up to $10,000 per employee per year. Organizations may claim a maximum of $300,000 annually. All private and not-for-profit sector employers in Alberta are eligible.

The grant program is employer driven, meaning that employers decide what type of training is needed and which employees get training. It must be training that would not otherwise take place and total a minimum of 24 hours.

Eligible expenses include tuition or instructional fees, examination fees, textbooks and other required materials. The employer covers these costs initially and is reimbursed one-third upon submission of expenses and one-third upon completion of the training. The application must be approved before expenses are incurred.

Continuing Education at Mount Royal is an eligible third-party training provider. Many of our programs are developed in response to educational needs identified in key industry sectors. Our part-time and online certificate delivery formats mean that employees do not have to be away from their jobs for an extended period.

The training experts in MRU’s Corporate Training Department can help put together a program to meet an organization’s specific needs. They can help bundle courses to meet the 24-hour minimum and assist with the grant application process.

The steps organizations need to take to access this funding program are outlined on our website. Contact our Corporate Training Department at or 403.5588.

Find more information, application forms, guidebooks, success stories and FAQs at

— by Karen McCarthy
— illustrations by Michael Poon


Taking Time to Celebrate Our People

(l-r) Elaine Danelesko, Joanne Leskow, Charles Webber

Mount Royal University’s annual Employee Awards ceremony recognizes the dedicated behind-the-scenes work of faculty and administrative staff in supporting learners to achieve their goals.

Two of our Continuing Education instructors received Distinguished Teaching Awards.

After a video presentation about instructor Joanne Leskow, Dean Charles Webber presented the award acknowledging her outstanding work in the classroom. Joanne has taught in the Leadership Development and Organizational Change Management program since 2009, as well as teaching corporate clients.

Joanne’s student Jose Bellorin noted in his nomination letter, “Joanne delivers a great experience. Her classes are very well-planned and interactive.”

Christina White Prosser, Scott McLean, Charles Webber
(l-r) Christina White Prosser, Scott McLean, Charles Webber

Instructor Scott McLean was recognized for his work with the Children’s Mental Health online program in Community and Health Studies.

In 2008 Scott was instrumental in updating the curriculum for the Children’s Mental Health program. He continues to teach several of the courses to students across Canada.

Scott was also part of the team that won the Effective Team Award for Indigenous Helping Practices, a new social work course that focuses on Aboriginal culture and providing connection to community elder as part of the helping process.

(l-r) Elaine Danelesko, Barb Lindsay, Dimitra Fotopoulos
(l-r) Elaine Danelesko, Barb Lindsay, Dimitra Fotopoulos

Barbara Lindsay, Administrative Assistant for the Business and Professional Education team, received a Distinguished Staff Award only a year after joining the faculty. Her colleagues’ nomination letter commended Barb’s “sparkly personality, generous attitude, astute professionalism and strong work ethic.”

As well, we were proud to acknowledge several long-serving Continuing Education employees.

30 Years

  • Elaine Danelesko

20 Years

  • Terry Dowsett

15 Years

  • Maureen Bray
  • Christine Schnurr
  • Christina White Prosser

10 Years

  • Dimitra Fotopoulos
  • Karen McCarthy

Congratulations to all of today’s award winners, and thank you to everyone who works to make the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension a great place to work and learn.

 — photos by Krystal Hurt


New Fall Programs Focus on Job-Ready Skills


Continuing Education programs are created to respond to training needs in the communities and sectors it serves — in Calgary and beyond. An ongoing process ensures that our programs are current, relevant and accessible.

The Fall 2015 semester launched on June 8, allowing students to register into courses that run between September and December.

Along with returning favourites, several new business and management programs were introduced.

The Advanced Public Relations certificate prepares public relations professionals to take on greater responsibility, with a focus on the strategic role of PR in the organization.

In association with Power System Asset Management Solutions (PSAMS), we are introducing the Asset Management program. It covers industry standards in five key areas of asset management.

We present a new Automotive Sales program. The four-day program is tailored specifically to the automotive sales industry. Learners will develop selling competency by understanding customer psychology and acting with integrity.

Our new Business Administration certificate combines highly sought-after business skills. The short, practical program gives a broad overview of key business competencies.

For those who are considering a new career, we have developed the Career Pathways: By Design, Not Default program, made up of 3-hour workshops covering everything from career mapping to resume creation and interviewing skills to onboarding.

Our online Community Investment Professional program gives a broad overview of how community investment fits with related functions such as corporate social responsibility, sustainability and shared values.

Digital Content Creation helps learners develop a content strategy and write and deliver interesting content to attract and engage audiences online and over social media channels.

The Transitional Vocational Program presents a series of six Disability Services Practitioner webinars providing clear foundational information for people working with individuals with developmental disabilities.

As the Canadian population ages, organizations are contemplating the consequences of a mass exodus of qualified employees. Supporting, Retaining and Engaging Our Mature Workers helps companies attract and engage this valuable resource.

Wedding and Social Event Planner brings artistic and business skills together to plan weddings, celebrations and other social events.

CE_Blog_Cover_F15Find these and many more programs on the MRU Continuing Education website at

You can also view the Fall 2015 Continuing Education calendar online.

by Karen McCarthy