How a Happy Accident Turned My Attention from Pastry Chef to Payroll
...a conversation with Michelle Pinto, Director, PayrollToday we shine the Support Centre Spotlight on Michelle Pinto, Director, Payroll, who tells us about her pastry chef alter ego and the happy accident that landed her on the path to the fulfilling career she has today.
Tell me about your background – how long have you been with dentalcorp and what were you doing before you joined?
I moved to Canada from Pakistan 19 years ago. Prior to dentalcorp I worked for “Citco” a global Financial Services company that administered hedge funds. I managed the payroll and benefits department and worked there for a decade before moving to dentalcorp. Next month is my three-year anniversary with the company.
Have you always wanted to be in Payroll? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Growing up I had a keen interest in cooking, so I had wanted to be a pastry chef. As you can imagine, there weren’t too many opportunities for me to pursue that particular passion. I haven’t abandoned my love of baking entirely though. Today, I continue to satisfy that interest by creating culinary treats for my family and friends in my spare time.
I ended up in payroll by accident! I was registered with a temp agency at the time. They sent me on an assignment that had the potential to turn into a full-time opportunity, so that sounded great. But the requirements for the temp role were peculiar – they wanted someone who could use a calculator. I thought “That’s it?! Hey, I can use a calculator!” I took the temp assignment which was in the payroll department…since then I have never looked back. It is as if my career found me.
That is such an interesting idea, i.e that your career found you. What do you love about what you do? Is there a particular aspect of it that you find most rewarding?
I love the challenges that Payroll has to offer. There are so many layers of complexities with different legislation and compliance for each province. Making sure everything works together within the system is like putting a puzzle together and I enjoy it.
I find taking the time to train someone on the job extremely rewarding. With one of my previous employers, I had a temp who came in to do some filing. I saw a lot of potential in her and asked if she would be interested in working in payroll. Initially she said that she was an artist and wanted to pursue a career in her field. Long story short, she ended up working closely with me, learning everything she could about payroll. Today, I am proud to say that she is a Payroll Manager.
Can you tell me a bit about your role on your team? What does a typical day look like?
My goal as Director of Payroll is to provide excellent service to our practices. I am responsible for optimizing payroll operations to ensure the bi-weekly payroll is completed in a timely and accurate manner. I manage internal and external payroll audits, and generate annual tax documents- T4, T4A, T2200. I have an amazing, hard-working team that makes all this possible.
In terms of a typical day - there really isn’t one. I always expect the unexpected and am rarely disappointed. It’s a good thing I love a challenge!
Tell me something funny that's happened to you?
On my very first visit to Canada’s Wonderland, I was pumped to get on a rollercoaster for the first time. The line up was so long however that I decided to get on the swinging boat ride first. I had no idea what to expect but swinging that high into the sky terrified me so much that all I had the courage to go on after that was the teacups. Maybe someday I’ll muster up the courage to go on the Ghoster Coaster.
Tell me about an experience you’ve had that’s really left an impact.
Like so many others, not having the freedom to do what I want during COVID-19 has really impacted me. It has made me realize that I have been taking the simple things in life for granted - taking the train to work, grabbing a Starbucks coffee, or shopping at a mall. But hands-down the thing I miss more than anything is eating at a restaurant.
Tell me something about yourself that your co-workers would never guess?
My co-workers would never guess that until six years ago, I didn’t know how to swim! I always wanted to learn, but the fear of submerging my head underwater and the idea of not being able to breathe kept me from learning this important skill. Finally, about six years ago, I signed up for lessons with the City of Toronto and learned how to swim! I now enjoy it so much that I joined the master swim club at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
What are your aspirations for personal and professional growth? Do you have a 5-year plan?
I feel that I have accomplished a lot of the fundamental goals I had set for myself. Now, my plan is to be part of change management and contributing to the rapid growth at dentalcorp by driving efficiencies and implementing effective and seamless payroll processes.
What advice do you have for new team members joining dentalcorp’s Support Centre?
Being part of the Support Centre means you have been given a platform where you can learn and gain valuable experience in a short period of time. Grab the opportunities as they present themselves, do your very best, and that hard work will pay off.