Michael Taylor, PayCaptain’s Head of Engineering, joined the company as employee number four. He’d spent his career with one employer in a number of different roles. Find out about Michael's role and what it means for him to be part of the PayCaptain team.
Tells us about your time at John Lewis Partnership – how long were you there and what were your responsibilities?
I was at John Lewis Partnership for nearly 30 years. I started in Waitrose when I was still at school, then spent time in Buying in John Lewis, then moved into Systems support working in the Bluewater branch, before moving to Scotland working in Systems support in the Glasgow branch.
I then moved to the customer facing areas, working in Linens, Carpets, Gift List and then I ran the Call Centre. Running the branch Call Centre gave me knowledge of planning shifts and forecasting call volumes. When John Lewis decided to centralise the customer service functions I moved into the call centre planning world, planning and forecasting for the new Contact Centres employing 1000 people.
After a few years and after a reorganisation, I moved into a newly created role working with Salesforce. I self-taught myself Salesforce Admin and became a certified administrator after a year.
In this role, I had the responsibility for over 15,000 users, making sure the system worked for managing complaints and queries and get the most out of the Salesforce platform. Following a further reorganisation, I was given the opportunity to take severance and decided that I need a change. It was scary as I’d worked my full career with one employer, but I’ve never looked back!
What do you do at PayCaptain? Tell us about your role
My role is not a typical Head of Engineering role. I have responsibility for Software engineers, data and quality and ensuring the product is developed and maintained to meet regulatory standards (HMRC, FCA etc) and make sure customers want to sign up and use the product.
I’m fully hands-on and involved in development, onboarding new customers, front line support, solving issues and fixing bugs! Everyday is different and I learn something new and I love passing my knowledge to the rest of my team and supporting them in their growth and development. It’s a great role.
What attracted you to join PayCaptain?
I was looking for a company that had great values and a positive attitude to remote working. I was already interviewing for various other companies and whilst browsing LinkedIn I stumble on the advert for PayCaptain.
I applied and started the process and the first thing that stood out was Simon’s passion for the company, what he was aiming for and how he described the role. I was offered the role at the same time as two other roles for other companies. The other roles were exciting and would challenge me, but PayCaptain just stood out.
I loved the idea of helping to build and improve the product, learn lots of new skills and really drive my career as much as I wanted. Two years on and I have been promoted twice and have loved every moment of the roles.
How is PayCaptain different from other places you’ve worked?
I've always worked in large teams or with lots of people from lots of different areas, so starting in PayCaptain two years ago as employee number four was a bit of a culture shock, but in the best way.
Being able to make quick decisions, without having multiple meetings and getting sign off for a simple change from multiple people or teams was the best thing. We don’t have meetings to plan for a meeting. If something needs done, it gets done. We talk all the time, we collaborate when needed but not as a tick box exercise and we support each other to make sure that the service we deliver to our customers, either via the technology or personally, is the number one priority.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Building new things and seeing the reaction of others when I show them the things I have created. I’m still so proud that customers are so excited by the product that I’ve helped to build and are so impressed by what we’ve achieved.
Who do you work most closely with at PayCaptain?
To begin with, during the build phase of the product, it was Simon as we were both building, testing and improving the product. Now I work closely with everyone in the business.
I couldn’t do my job without working closely with the payroll team, operations and my own team. It’s great to get ideas, support and genuine feedback on the changes we make and how that impacts everyone in the business.
How do the ideas for new functionality come about?
Ideas come from everyone. We encourage everyone in the business to submit ideas for new functionality or improvements. Some of the new functionality we've developed from ideas from the team is an expenses submission and approval process; holiday booking system and an internal weekly update every member of the PayCaptain fills in each week. This includes their highs and lows for the week and what they have planned for the following week. These are then emailed to everyone on a Friday. As a fully remote business, it is great to share with everyone what we've been working on and what’s coming up.
How fast-moving is development of the PayCaptain system?
We can be very fast-moving if needed. If we find a simple issue or a simple change that will make life for one of the teams better, we can make those updates within minutes. If the change is more complex and will impact customers or calculations then we still move fast but these changes need to be fully tested and communicated.
What’s the benefit of PayCaptain being built on the Salesforce platform?
The platform allows us to be agile and develop fast. Salesforce is always improving and developing new products that allow us to use these new features or improvements to make the PayCaptain product the best it can be.
What are the benefits of automating processes for customers?
If it makes things easier for customers or quicker to get something done then we’ll look to automate the process.
For example, setting up a charity donation via payroll - the customer will choose the charity and the amount, the system will then set up the Pay Element, set up the payment from the employee to the charity and handle all the movement of money. This makes it really simple to donate and my previous experience of this would take weeks to set up and many forms to fill in and then you give up as it takes so long!
Setting up a savings account and setting up regular savings amount can be done in under a minute. Again, this probably wouldn’t be simple with other companies or even possible.
Since joining PayCaptain, I’ve set up two charity donations, created a savings account and set up a regular savings amount and also make an additional payment to my pension. I didn’t do any of this in my last job as it was just too complicated or wasn’t available.
Do you have much interaction with customers or is yours a more internal role?
I do have some interaction, normally with support cases the payroll team are not able to support and also when developing features for customers.
What are your personal and professional goals within the business?
I want to climb the ladder as much as I can as the business grows and build the best technology team in the industry. I have a lot to learn, but PayCaptain supports my learning and it’s great having a manager that believes in me.
What was your first job, and for who, when you left school/University?
I worked at Waitrose part time as I studied Nursing at University (not something I continued with).
How did you get into systems?
When I started in Buying, email was very new and we shared PCs. I remember being really interested in the new software that I got to use. John Lewis was opening a new store in the Bluewater Shopping Centre and I applied for a Systems Support Team Manager role and to my surprise I got the role! I then had 3 months of training, and then started in the new store 6 months before it opened, installing all the tills, PCs and telephones. I learned so much and it was great to be involved in opening a new store.
What is the proudest moment in your career?
It was being promoted to Head of Engineering at PayCaptain. I’m not the most outgoing person and I've always been told that I was too nice to move up the ladder or too quiet. At PayCaptain, you're valued for what you do and how you treat people, not for what you say or for treading over people to get to the top of the ladder.
PayCaptain Payroll Solutions Limited, www.paycaptain.com is a multi-award-winning HR/FinTech company that delivers a fully automated cloud outsourced payroll service. The solution contains many unique and innovative features for employees, helping them to take control of their pay and increase their financial well-being.
PayCaptain is a payroll solution that helps employers pay their workforce, regardless of income and personal circumstances. The solution incorporates functionality that's specifically designed to positively impact financial resilience for people struggling with money, or vulnerable and low-income employees.
PayCaptain is the world’s first payroll company to be B-Corporation certified. To read more about B-Corporations, visit www.bcorporation.net
PayCaptain has been recognised and rewarded with two B Corp ‘Best for the World’ awards for being within the top 5% of highest scorers within both the Workers and Governance impact areas in the B Corporation B Impact Assessment.
In October2022, PayCaptain was awarded the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals ’Software Product of the Year 2022 at the CIPP Annual Excellence Awards.