Bradford Means Business meets Karen Thomson of Armstrong Watson
Karen has worked in the HR, finance, pensions and payroll industry for most of her career, focussing on the payroll and pensions industry for the last 20 years. She sits on a number of government consultation forums representing employer and client views.
She is qualified to Masters level and lectures for the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) in partnership with Derby University for the Masters programme and is one of only 10 people to be appointed as a Chartered Member of the CIPP. In addition she is also a qualified tutor for the CIPP teaching their Foundation Degree in Payroll Management.
Karen became only the second known Payroll Partner of a UK accountancy firm in April 2019.
Whether a business is a customer now or not, she values them. Karen insists that no-one is treated as a number, only as a person. Customer service is at the forefront of everything she does. She uses the knowledge she has to help employers keep their employees happy, by providing an excellent payroll service.
Tell us about the day to day life of your job?
I love that every day is different. I can be supporting the payroll team with legislative updates/training, travelling to London to attend one of the many government and or professional body consultation forums, or visiting and helping clients. There is also my boss to take into account and what he might want from me as a service line head.
What excites you about your job?
All the people I work with including all my colleagues and our diverse range of customers. I also love reading about new legislation and sharing my views and/or processes.
What is the proudest moment of your career?
I have two; becoming one of the first in the world to be a Chartered Payroll Professional and then becoming a Partner at Armstrong Watson; being only the second known payroll partner in the UK, the first in the North and the first woman.
If you knew someone was wanting to get into your industry what advice would you give them?
Be prepared to deal with lots of changes – especially after a General Election! Have a sense of humour as some legislation that comes into force is bonkers! Be a team player, and finally, you need to have many skill sets including attention to detail and great communication.
What makes a good boss?
Empowering leadership, empathy and being a good listener.
What is it you love about Bradford?
What isn’t there to love? The people show true Yorkshire spirit!
What was the first job you had and how much did you get paid?
Pot washer for a restaurant in Nairn, Scotland and I earned the grand sum of £0.75 per hour!
What did you want to be when you were 5?
A vet, zoo-keeper or join the Navy (couldn’t actually have gone on the ships back then as I was a girl!)
Who is your idol and why?
Richard Branson as he isn’t afraid to try new things and if they fail has the attitude ‘so what, let’s try again!’
Name 4 people dead or alive you would like to go to dinner with?
Richard Branson, Graham Norton, Michael McIntyre and Percy Sledge (my favourite song is ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’)
What would you cook them?
Ribeye steak, chips, mushrooms and peas.
Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?
Joanne Pile, Beef farmer who recently lost her husband to suicide. Her openness and her determination to help others and keep the farm going has been truly inspirational from someone I have never met and is at the opposite end of the country!
‘Woman of Substance’ (Barbara Taylor Bradford) and of course all the Harry Potter series!
Best holiday you have ever been on and why
Antigua – Honeymoon 26 years ago.
The one place on earth you have always wanted to visit and why?
Alaska to see the whales and bears in their natural habitat.
What do you do to unwind after a long day in the office?
Friday is a large Gin and Tonic and cuddles with the dogs after saying hello to the hens; weekdays if I can resist the G&T, then just cuddles with the dogs and saying hello to the hens
What one thing could you not live without ?
Sense of humour which allows me to laugh.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Sandra Bullock (although she would have to eat some more and dye her hair!)
What would your superpower be?
Making miserable and unhappy people, happy and smiling.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have a luxury item what would it be?
Ice for the gin and tonic!
What is your happy song?
‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners.
If you could retire tomorrow what would be the first thing you’d do?
Buy some Alpacas.
Tell us a joke
What do you call a chicken looking at a lettuce? Chicken seesa salad (had to be a hen joke)
What is the craziest thing you have every done for charity?
Abseil down a whiskey bond building in Edinburgh, whilst being afraid of heights.
If we gave you cheque for £1,000 which charity would you donate it to
Local animal rescue.