Laura Palulis is an Implementation Consultant at HRchitect with over 20 years of professional payroll experience. Get to know Laura, her hobbies, and what motivated her to join HRchitect in this month’s employee spotlight.
Hometown: Unity, a small town in Southern New Hampshire.
Alma Mater: I received my undergraduate degree from Providence College and my M.B.A. from Johnson and Wales University.
All-time favorite restaurant: I love Becco in New York City. It is one of Lidia Bastianich’s Italian restaurants. There’s a daily special where the chefs continually come out with 3 different pots of pasta and serve it tableside. Although the pasta selection varies, it is always delicious.
Last book you read: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood.
One song you could listen to on repeat: Anything by Michael Bublé. I love his voice.
What do you do when you’re not working? I like to sew, quilt, travel, cook, hiking, kayaking and fishing on the lake that I live on.
In your own words, what do you do at HRchitect? My role encompasses a couple different areas. I facilitate implementations of HR and Payroll systems for a wide range of companies – some very small and some very large. I also support clients with ongoing needs and system maintenance after the client’s initial implementation. In these cases, the client’s needs vary greatly but might be something such as re-writing General Ledger rules from a new accounting system, assisting with system configuration to ensure that benefits open enrollment goes smoothly, or filling in to cover a staff shortage.
How did you find out about HRchitect, and what made you join the company? I was looking for a career change but knew that I didn’t want to move into a role that was exclusively limited to payroll processing or tax returns. I had several experiences working with consultants at my former company and at the time, it occurred to me that I might like to move into consulting someday. An HRchitect consultant who was in my network via a specific HCM technology user group mentioned that HRchitect was growing several consulting practices and that there were opportunities available.
When I looked at the corporate website, I was impressed with the clients that HRchitect has worked with, and in fact, I had worked with a few of the same entities in a different capacity. What really solidified my decision to join the team was the opportunity to talk with potential teammates during the interview process, during which several people mentioned that the CEO, Matt Lafata, truly cares about the team and goes out of his way to meet with them and stay connected to them, even though we are all working remotely.
Tell me about your background in the HR industry. I’ve always found myself in payroll, although no one plans to work in payroll. I fell into it after I completed my undergraduate studies. I had an accounting degree and took on payroll duties at the company I was working for at the time. In my next role, I spent 18 years in payroll/accounting/taxation for a large educational institution, where my role revolved around configuring and utilizing a particular HR technology system, UltiPro. In that role, one of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was taking a new regulation and figuring out how to make that work within UltiPro, and I was really good at it. Now, I help clients implement, optimize, and support that same platform.
What’s a typical workday like for you? I usually sit down at my desk around 8am and catch up on emails from the night before. Typically, I have several calls scattered throughout the day with clients. In between my client calls, I’ll be working on configuration changes, and other action items that have come out of my meetings. If I have extra time in the day, I make a point of sharpening my skills or learning new skills, particularly when there are new releases of the platform. I take my dog for a walk at lunch, and try to wrap up work around 5:30pm.
What aspect of HR/Payroll systems seems to be the biggest challenge for payroll professionals? Anything around the world of benefits and sick leaves tends to be challenging for payroll professionals. Leave of absence requirements and associated paid leaves vary greatly by state, and it can be challenging to translate those tricky requirements to a system configuration, especially when these configuration changes need to be completed in a short timeframe. Minimum wage is another tricky area, because there are a lot of risks and possibilities for compliance issues, particularly in areas where a city may have a set minimum wage requirement that is different from the rest of the state.
Tell me about a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of. I was particularly proud of a recent enterprise project I completed for a hospitality company with 30,000 employees. This was a really complex project with 60,000 total employee records, once the terminated employee records were included with active employee records. This project involved co-efficient overtime, tipped and non-tipped employees, exempt and non-exempt employees and a significant number of benefits needing to be set up. I was able to automate a number of data imports that saved the team a lot of effort, which I was thrilled about.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day? I love what I do, and really that’s the honest truth. I enjoy helping clients, and I appreciate how grateful our clients are for our help. Earlier this year, I felt that I was able to be even more helpful to clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many regulations were passed quickly, which meant clients needed to quickly figure out requirements for things like paid leave, extending insurance, and tax credits, so they could communicate with and care for their employees in a timely manner. It was rewarding to be able to do my part by working to dissect those new regulations, and programs and to update their HCM systems to get them in compliance, and get some of the tax relief that some clients were eligible for.
Which employee perk that HRchitect offers do you enjoy the most? That’s a tough question! If I had to pick a perk, I’d say I like the health insurance reimbursement for our gym memberships. Culturally, I really appreciate the fact that we’re free to do our jobs the way we see fit without micromanaging, but when we need tools or support to do our jobs well, management is quick to provide those resources. It’s just the right mix that results in a great work culture.
Learn more about Laura Palulis