Global Payroll Week 2024 – Meg Kirk

In celebration of Global Payroll Week 2024, Stacey Radford sat down with Meg Kirk to discuss the world of payroll.

How did you get into payroll?

I am relatively new to Global Payroll having started working on other than UK jurisdictions in 2021. What I love most about my job is learning about different countries’ payroll practices, intricacies surrounding payroll taxation, exchanging insights with fellow global payroll professionals and collaborating on various projects.

My career path led me to focus on Global Payroll as my ultimate goal. It all began when I worked in a small but rapidly growing accounting firm in my local area. I enjoyed learning about all kinds of taxation, business start-ups, tax efficiencies etc but as the practice grew and the roles became more defined, I naturally gravitated towards payroll as something I instantly understood and connected with. Over time I transitioned from handling a handful of clients to managing a large portfolio of businesses across many different industries, with a multitude of deadlines, different requirements, and expectations. This experience taught me valuable organisational skills and attention to detail, essential qualities for managing diverse payroll responsibilities.

Towards the end of pandemic I took on the challenge of managing both inhouse and outsourced payroll operations for a dynamic and complex business. This role introduced me to new strategies for ensuring accurate and timely processing across international payrolls. I prioritised training and education, completing a Foundation Degree with the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) and obtaining certification in Global Payroll Strategy and Leadership from the Global Payroll Association (GPA). These qualifications deepened my understanding of payroll management on a strategic level within organisations.

Strategies for global payroll?

I am a great promoter of good communication which I consider as an open door to solving any issues. Building strong relationship with the vendors is something I prioritise when managing international payrolls. Good vendor who you have a great communication with will help you understand the intricacies of the in country payroll and taxation- I am always very keen to know. I’d like to be able to answer all the payroll queries from the employees and be familiar with the in-country legislation.

Standardising processes and procedures across regions, including documentation, platform access, reporting formats, and approval flows, was crucial for smooth payroll operations. This approach ensured consistency and minimised discrepancies, particularly when dealing with international vendors with different expectations and cultures.

I believe in leveraging the expertise of local professionals. Establishing strong working relationships with vendors enabled me to better understand the unique legal and regulatory requirements of each region. Regular communication with vendors allowed me to benefit from their insights and expert knowledge.

Data security is a top priority in Global Payroll, especially concerning cross-border data transfers. I always inquire about vendors’ measures to protect sensitive employee information and ensure compliance with GDPR and CCPA regulations.

Regular audits and reviews have taught me the importance of continuous improvement in payroll processes. Rather than focusing on assigning blame for errors, I analyse issues to prevent recurrence. Implementing contingency plans has been crucial, especially during unexpected events like the global pandemic, to ensure seamless payroll processing and support for organisations and employees alike.

What are the key challenges when working with global payrolls?

Working in Global Payroll presents numerous challenges due to the complexity of managing payroll across different jurisdictions and regions. Among these hurdles are are commonplace daily obstacles like interdepartmental communication, lack of system integration, uniform reporting, data validation and robust, standardised processes. Other challenges are typical for Global Payroll and these include legal and regulatory compliance, tax regulations and the staying updated with the regular changes and updates within each country.

Multiple currency and exchange rates impact the payroll budgeting so agile management is essential to monitor payroll costs and accuracy. The same goes to data security when managing payrolls across different countries. Cross border data transfers raise concerns about data security and privacy compliance, particularly with regions such as GDPR in the European Union and CCPA in the US, safeguarding sensitive employee information while ensuring compliance with data protection law is crucial. And here a robust and integrated system which takes the burden of this part while supporting uniformed financial reporting, user interface can be invaluable, but these systems are also expensive.

There are various other challenges while managing Global Payroll  from time zone differences while dealing with deadlines and  the sheer complexity of managing multiple payrolls. Errors happen but it’s how we deal with them counts!

As a change manager I always promote continuous process review and improvement and where possible implementing integrated platforms and systems.

My advice to those entering the world of International or Global Payroll?

Never stop learning. Gain a strong foundation and solid understanding of payroll fundamentals including overview of in-country laws and regulations and reporting requirements. Invest time in learning about payroll management strategies. It will pay off.

Develop cultural awareness which might be tricky without visiting the country you are learning about. I love to travel whenever possible to meet the vendors and employees I manage in person. There is no better way to collaborate than when you meet face to face. This also promotes growth of strong relationships which is invaluable at your job!

Seek mentorship. Whether you are just starting in payroll or have worked in the profession for a while having someone in your corner can be a powerful motivating force. The GPA run this fantastic Mentor Scheme where you can book a volunteer expert in their region/country you need to learn about to help you answer the most burning questions.

But most of all stay organised and details orientated, keep accurate records, adhere to deadlines and stay efficient as that’s what all payroll professionals are. You have chosen the most rewarding career, you are essential and respected. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to grow knowing that your contributions make a difference every day. Never underestimate the importance of your work.

Enjoy what you do, and your efforts will get appreciated!


Stacey Radford

Stacey Radford

Senior Manager - Payroll

Skip to content