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

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