Making the most of now

Features

A HOME FROM HOME The CEO of Payslip, Fidelma McGurk, a native of Wexford, made Westport her home in 2015 and is now keen to bring more employment to her adopted town with her burgeoning company, Payslip.

Payslip has quickly expanded due to an ability to recognise the opportunity that the pandemic created


Michael Gallagher

It’s Wednesday afternoon in Westport. Croagh Patrick has decided to hide its head in the clouds and the wonders of Clew Bay are shrouded in fog, but Fidelma McGuirk doesn’t mind. She’s well aware of her fabulous surroundings, well aware of the jewel by the ocean and is embracing life on the west coast.
The entrepreneur might have been born and raised on the other side of the country, but Westport is now her home, and she loves it.
“It’s a great place to live, a great community to live in and a wonderful place to work from,” she tells The Mayo News.
Despite appearances, Fidelma isn’t employed by Tourism Ireland. She’s a thriving CEO driving her global business, Payslip, to new heights. For this scribe and the less technically-minded among us, we’ll cut through the jargon and say, in simple terms Fidelma’s company looks after companies’ payroll. It may sound simple and easily replicated but that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Payslip work with many companies who have staff in multiple countries around the planet, with different rules, tax and payment systems in place, so it requires the very best minds and technical ability to make an impression.
Interestingly, in the past few months while the Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc in many corners of the business world, Payslip has thrived. Indeed, the progress is so stark that staff numbers will rise from 30 to 150 in the coming weeks and months.
How did this metamorphosis occur? The CEO explains.
“When Covid hit in March last year there was an initial negative impact on our expansion plans. We sell to large multinationals, and they were understandably distracted from buying new software because they had to make sure their teams were okay and that they could do what they had to do at home. The whole conversation in these companies moved from ‘let’s buy software to improve our global build’ to more hands-on matters such as making sure everyone had a laptop and broadband so they could work from home.
“This caused an immediate stall in new sales from March to July or August. Then the intentions changed, and they saw that things had stabilised, and their businesses were continuing to operate the way they wanted. Then, when they came out of the first lockdown, they could think about the problems Covid had thrown up and how to deal with them,” Fidelma states before explaining how her company saw an opportunity and stepped forward.

Seeing the opportunity
“Multinationals soon realised that all of the processes they had been using before Covid weren’t fully automated and they weren’t all cloud-based, so we went and figured out how we could combine our work in delivering payroll with some smart tech which then led them to us.
“Multinationals also found out that they needed to standardise their payroll on a global scale because when a team was knocked out in one country, a team in another country couldn’t always organise payroll because it was different, and they didn’t fully understand it.
“That’s where we come in. Our software helps them standardise how they manage their payroll on a global scale. If their teams in one country is hit by Covid, it enables teams in other countries run their payroll even if they don’t fully understand it.
“Huge companies never again wanted to be in a situation where if one team is unavailable, nobody else could do the job. They looked for a common way of working across multiple countries and software to do that, which led them to us.”
That changed the horizon for Payslip. Suddenly the Westport-based company was being inundated with queries, as Fidelma explains.
“In September we saw a huge level of interest from companies of a much bigger size than we had ever worked with before. We were always targeting mid-market companies with six hundred to a thousand people outside their HQ country but in September we were getting in queries from people saying we’re really interested in this, we have 44,000 people in 72 countries, can your software help us? Or we have 275,000 people in 120 countries, and we like what you can offer us.”
This has thrown up huge opportunities for Fidelma and her team, but they are joyously embracing them. The company is currently recruiting and building a team of 150 staff while also looking for a suitable property for their HQ.
Whether that building will be found in Westport or somewhere else remains to be seen, but the CEO hopes to remain living by Clew Bay.
“I love it here, absolutely love it. The only way they’ll get me out of it is in a box.”