Payroll Portraits campaign features Invermere’s own Rhoma Clett

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

No matter what field we work in, we all look forward to getting paid, but how often do we think about the payroll professionals that make sure we do? The National Payroll Institute (NPI) recently launched their dynamic campaign, Portraits of Payroll, aimed to celebrate the contributions and recognize the value provided to businesses, communities, and families by payroll professionals across Canada.

“The Portraits of Payroll campaign was launched in August of 2022 following a 75-day journey across the country to meet payroll professionals and document their unique stories,” said Peter Tzanetakis, president of the NPI, in a press release. The campaign was developed to showcase the diversity and impact of payroll professionals across the country. NPI members are working in every corner of this country, contributing to the business health of diverse sectors, causes and communities every day and this campaign provides a small glimpse of their contributions.”

Among them was Invermere’s own Rhoma Clet who makes an international impact in her role with Kicking Horse Coffee Co. Ltd. Kicking Horse was acquired by Italy-based Lavazza Group, so Clet needs to comply with rules and legislation from different jurisdictions within Canada, and also needs to observe those in different countries. Clet shared that the strategic work she does allows the company to support employee health and wellness.

“I’m blessed! I love my job,” said Clet in her recent Payroll Portrait. “The payroll forecasting and budgeting that I do is important to my company’s success. I provide data that helps decision makers understand the cost and impact of employee benefits, which helps them plan for their future. Trying to manage payrolls across two countries and integrating Italian International assignees compensation with Canadian payroll at one time is very complex. It can be complicated at times, and I have to keep learning from the NPI.”

Originally from the Philippines, Clet worked for Delta Airlines in 2008 but was looking for a change to expand her impact. Between two choices of being a flight attendant for a different airline or working at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, Clet shared it was a no-brainer to choose the beautiful Columbia Valley located on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa peoples and the land chosen as home by the Métis peoples of B.C. During Clet’s four years with the resort, she worked her way from the front desk to the accounting office. She feels taken care of since her move to the Columbia Valley.

“After work, I can go outside and take a breath of real fresh air,” shares Clet. “I love to go running and hiking in the nearby area, as well as soak in the hot springs.”

While she knows the benefits of a little rest and relaxation, Clet goes full steam ahead with her career. Three years ago, she moved to a position with Kicking Horse to work in the payroll, benefits, and accounts payable department. Within a few months, the focus of her job changed, and she became the payroll and benefits specialist. Clet’s new title gave her new payroll responsibilities. This involved setting up the annual payroll model and forecasting and budgeting for the company. Her role with Kicking Horse Coffee has a cross border impact as she manages payroll for employees both here and in the United States. Clet also played a role in implementing and setting up the new payroll software for the company’s flagship Café, which will be opening soon in Invermere. Now enrolled in the NPI’s certified payroll management program, Clet’s goal is to stay with Kicking Horse and become a payroll manager after completion.

“It’s all so exciting!” said Clet.

Clet’s story is just one of many that put the people back in payroll. Every September, the NPI celebrates National Payroll Week, Sept 19 to 23, to recognize the vital contributions of payroll personnel. The Portraits of Payroll campaign is unique in that it is the first time that the institute has harnessed the power of photography and storytelling to chronicle the personal and professional lives of its members. A picture is worth a thousand words; to fully bring this campaign to life, Canadian preeminent portrait photographer Christopher Wahl was commissioned to travel across the country and capture the images of more than 40 payroll professionals.

“Having Christopher photograph NPI members was an important way for the Institute to demonstrate the stature and significance of their stories,” said Tzanetakis. “He has the ability to always capture the humanity in his subjects.”

Wahl has photographed many important people, from the Queen of England to Hollywood A-listers.

“As a photographer whose work is, at this point in my career, focused on documenting the Canadian identity, this was a dream assignment,” said Wahl. “Payroll professionals like Rhoma contribute so much to their business and their community – it was inspiring and an honour to shine a light on what they do. Along the way, I was lucky enough to walk on frozen lakes in Whitehorse, among mountain goats in Alberta and on boats in northern Newfoundland. Everywhere I went, from the west to the east and north to the south, I was welcomed with open arms. Bread was broken on some occasions and laughs were always had.”

They may work be behind the scenes but payroll personnel are at the heart of every business.

“The Institute knew it was important to shine a spotlight on the importance of the work being done by payroll from coast-to-coast,” said Tzanetakis.

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