It’s a cold, grey January day in Glasgow. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the bright, buzzing Mazars office. Based in Queen Street, the firm haven’t been at their current location for too long, but they are already making big waves in the Payroll market – not just in Glasgow, but across the UK.
Kindly taking time out their busy days, wherein they could be solving Payroll problems for one man bands up to multi-national organisations, John Cuthbert and Nicola Truesdale sat down with us over a coffee to give us some insight as to their career path to date.
The colleagues find themselves working towards securing a further promotion within the Glasgow Payroll Management Team which, given their clear drive and enthusiasm, is no surprise.
John explains: “I started off in Mazars in February 2014 as a trainee Payroll Assistant and very quickly managed to progress through the team. When I first started there was only three of us in the team and we were able to secure a lot of clients which enabled me to sink my teeth into more complex work and gain more exposure than I did at my previous role.
“I have managed to get promoted each year since then. It’s a good success story to tell candidates who are looking to start in here.”
Adding to this, Nicola says, “Prior to Mazars, I had been working in mentoring roles, but had never been given the title to match the responsibility. So, when Andy reached out to me, it was a clear step up and was exactly what I wanted.
“There are lots of other elements that attracted me to Mazars. The office itself is stunning and modern, and in a great location. The team are very friendly, and the interview was very relaxing. I felt like the managers here understood my vision and I understood theirs. It just felt like everything was a good fit. The clear career progression was also an attractive opportunity.
“This is my third Accountancy firm, but I have previously worked in-house, as a trainee, seven years ago. If someone is looking for a challenge, and wants to progress, I would say you have to move to bureau.”
So, for candidates looking to make their way into bureau or, indeed, simply change firm, what are the newly-appointed management team looking for?
John smiles, and says, “I want candidates who come in the door and tell me ‘In five years’ time, I’ll be in your job.’ That’s the type of ambition I like to see. We like to hire people for our team that we know are going to be the future of our team. Currently, we know that the people sitting in our team are, in ten years’ time, going to be running that team. That’s so exciting to see. My own promotion to management has been an internal one, and Mazars are excellent at identifying key talent who will go far.”
Nicola agrees and adds, “The team is growing and there are lots of opportunities here. Our client base is increasing and there are lots of people here who want to develop their own careers. Glasgow is going to be a real flagship office for Mazars.
“The feedback we are getting is great and the company wants to grow our offering. We are the biggest team nationally, and we will be growing further. Currently, we have 11 people in the team and the plan is to grow this to 14 within the first half of the year.”
Mazars currently offer the option to work towards a CIPP qualification for any employee who is interested in doing so, as well as the opportunities to source training on other subjects.
“We’re not restricted to just Payroll tasks, there are lots of opportunities to become involved in different projects. This isn’t just about getting a promotion of personal progression, it’s about learning a wider scope of skills and dealing with a bigger client base,” says John.
“Equally, you don’t have to want to be a manager within a few months to work well with our team. You can stay at a level that suits you and work within whatever elements of Payroll that suit you, for example, Implementation.”
Our Managing Consultant, Andy Mitchell, who placed Nicola in Mazars, chimes in at this point, clearly enthused by the team before him: “I am pleased to say that I think this will be the best Payroll management team in Glasgow. It’s really exciting to watch the team grow under Nicola and John’s leadership.”
And so, what can the next generation of budding Payroll talent expect from the firm if they were to apply for a role to join the team?
“When candidates come in to interview – say they have one to two years’ experience in Payroll – we have a straightforward process,” John explains. “Firstly, we like to start off just meeting the candidate on an informal basis. We like to put their mind and ease and get to know them – we understand that everyone gets stressed out going to interview. If we like them, and believe they will be a good fit for the team, and they like us, we invite them back. At that point, there’s a small exam, which is a mix of competency questions and legislation.
“I think for any team to work properly, it has to have the right people in it. Anyone can study hard to pass the test, but not everyone can blend in to the team aspect we have here, which could be detrimental to the work we do.”
Nicola agrees with this balance of technical ability and attitudinal fit, particularly since the Payroll team enjoy spending time together. She adds, “I think you just need to get the feel for someone. We’re quite a social team; we go for lunches or host social events in the office. We all mingle and have a good laugh together. That’s why we get to know someone on a personal basis, rather than just asking them work-related questions. That fit is just as important as the skill level for us.”
Customer service skills are also at the heart of every successful Payroll candidate. Both Nicola and John agree that you’ll get to know which clients you can have a laugh and a casual conversation with and which clients prefer a more corporate veneer.
Perhaps a thick skin is needed for dealing with such a wide variety of clients and their needs?
“Yes,” laughs John, “But the same can be said for any Payroll department in the world. Especially when it comes to month end and everyone is really busy.”
Whilst they both agree that the best thing about working at Mazars are the colleagues they have gained, John and Nicola understand that some candidates might have some hang ups about making a move.
Nicola, who is clearly enjoying her role here, has this to say: ““Why wouldn’t you want to be here? There are so many positive things about Mazars. There are opportunities for growth or, if you don’t want to grow, there’s still a great team. It’s a good environment and a great location. Why would you not move?”
John nods in agreement, adding, “We have a lot of success stories here, myself included. I would do my best to alleviate their concerns and have a catch up over coffee. If it was a personal confidence thing, we would work closely with the candidate as a mentor to allow them to grow. We’re an agile firm, so we can also look at things like working from home.”
We have to let the bright young things of the Payroll department return to their busy desks, as their day is full of mentoring and supporting their team, as well as their clients. Before we make John put on a tie to have his photograph taken, he has one last pearl of wisdom: “I think for me, as a very career driven person, I’ve been able to see my own progress. Not just professionally, but personally too.
“When I first joined Mazars, I was terrified to speak to clients on the phone. I was sweating, shaking and didn’t want to do it. Now, I’m confident to pick up the phone or step in and help others. I’m able to smooth over situations now that, five years ago, I would have been stressed about. I feel like I’ve really grown as a person, in my confidence and my abilities. And it’s all been thanks to Mazars.”
If you would like to have a confidential chat about your career with our expert Payroll recruitment consultant, Andy Mitchell, click here to get in touch.