Carsten Staehr: Focusing on teamwork at Cintra Carsten Staehr: Focusing on teamwork at Cintra

Carsten Staehr: Focusing on teamwork at Cintra
30 Sep 2014

Cintra’s warm-hearted CEO shares his views on auto-enrolment, the company’s leap in the Payroll Top 50 and why he loves doing business from the North of England with Dawn Gay.

Tell me about your journey to becoming CEO at Cintra?

I was working in London at the time and was looking for a payroll provider with the ability to integrate into our management system. I had struggled to find anyone who could meet my requirements and make it commercially viable, when I came across Cintra.

Their can-do attitude really stood out: the implementation was smooth and I was impressed by their great service. I admired the company, so when the opportunity arose, leaving behind the glitz and glamour of a leading global advertising agency to join the Cintra family was an easy decision. I haven’t looked back. It’s easy to be a CEO for such a great organisation!

You work on payrolls for five to 20,000 - what is your philosophy working across such a broad spectrum?

Core to Cintra’s culture is to create a company that, put simply, is the best in our industry, judged by our customers. This is the backbone of everything we do as a company and is reflected in our vision and mission: “Our vision is to be the natural choice for HR and Payroll. Our mission is simple, to keep our customers happy”.

This applies to all of our clients regardless of their size. We have set our stall out as an outstanding provider of HR and payroll services and commit to providing the same level of service, irrespective of whether the client is a small local company or a substantial global organisation.

Tell me about the challenges that you face working across payroll in 27 countries?

Since becoming one of the leading partners in the Payroll Services Alliance (PSA), I have certainly had my eyes opened to the challenges of cross border payroll. In my opinion, the two main challenges are undoubtedly legislation and culture.

It comes as no surprise to me that seven out of 10 of the most complex countries to run payroll are in Europe. As you know there is no one global solution, which is why I believe the PSA is such a great service – it offers the best local knowledge backed by a global outlook.

This in-country expertise allows us to hold a client’s hand and guide them step by step through what can be an extremely complex process, in a language that they understand and on their terms.

To keep things as simple as possible, the PSA offers one contract, one service level agreement and one dedicated point of contact, no matter which country or combination of countries are involved. There are also challenges faced by companies depending on their size – there may be the added complication of interfacing with third party suppliers.

The PSA can give guidance, reassurance and expertise every step of the way. The PSA handles these challenges in exactly the same way that we do at Cintra – by putting the client first, understanding their needs and finding them the best solution.

PSA clients have the best of both worlds: day to day, up to the minute in country expertise, coupled with the ability to access a strategic global overview via the powerful bespoke reporting tools developed by the PSA.

You had your 100th auto-enrolment client recently. Why is this such an amazing progression for Cintra?

The HR and payroll industry has faced a great deal of change and upheaval in recent years, what with RTI, followed by auto-enrolment hot on its heels. Both legislative changes have represented significant challenges to providers such as ourselves and our many clients.

Although fundamentally positive in principle, I think it is widely acknowledged that the precommunication in relation to auto-enrolment could have been better! Cintra faced the challenge of making sure that our software was compliant with the complex legislative requirements, but also that our clients were kept in the loop.

In true Cintra style however we wanted to make sure, not just that our software was compliant, but that it was easy to use and streamlined the processes as much as possible for our customers. We have heard many stories on the grapevine of issues faced by other providers and their clients, so for us 100 smooth implementations and subsequent happy customers is cause for celebration!

You recently made the Payroll Top 50, how did it feel to achieve this?

I was absolutely delighted! The personal recognition is humbling. However, to me it represents a reflection of Cintra as a company: a company which I am honoured to represent. Everything we do at Cintra is based on teamwork and our focus is totally devoted to our wonderful clients: for this to be recognised by the industry is fantastic. I feel privileged to be at the helm of such a great organisation.

Why is the north of England a great placed to be based for payroll?

The North of England is a great place full stop. The pace of change in business conditions today is remarkable and the North East itself has demonstrated a great ability to change and adapt: to redeploy skills and expertise and to welcome and nurture new industries, which enhance its already rich heritage. There is much to admire and enjoy here. I truly am an adopted Geordie!

Seriously though, it offers a good, stable workforce and lower overheads than many other areas of the country. As a region it is renowned for its friendly, open and can do attitude, which is at the heart of Cintra culture and technology means that geographic location isn’t a barrier to doing business.

Providing great service is also high on the agenda and going that extra mile is second nature; another natural fit with the Cintra philosophy.

Cintra really encourage community involvement, why is this a part of your company culture?

I like the Winston Churchill quote: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”. That really sums up how we feel about being a part of the wider community. Corporate responsibility, social accounting, whatever you like to call it. Here at Cintra, helping others is a part of our DNA.

Our staff strive to make a positive impact and we as an organisation actively encourage their enthusiasm, passion and desire to make a difference. What is more we have a lot of fun in doing so! Whether cycling the coast to coast, running the Great North Run, bake days, raffles, taking part in fun runs or the extreme challenge of 10 marathons in 10 months, everyone contributes to our fundraising activities!

Tell me about the Cintra iQ system?

To me, Cintra iQ is the jewel in Cintra’s crown. It is a single, fully integrated solution, utilising the best functions from our award winning HR and payroll products and can be deployed specifically to suit the client’s requirements. The customer has the opportunity to take control of the elements they wish to retain and outsource the rest.

For example, they may choose to retain their HR procedures in-house but wish to outsource their payroll. Cintra iQ offers total flexibility. I’m proud to say that it has, for the past two years, been voted ‘Software Product of the Year’ in the CIPP Awards.

Cintra iQ supports an unlimited number of employees within one database and has the ability to report across the whole organisation. To see it is to love it – honestly, I have yet to see it demonstrated to anyone who hasn’t immediately fallen in love with it.

What is your vision as CEO?

This may sound simplistic, but it is from the heart. In a nutshell: great products, happy staff and happy customers. For me, everything is personal. Cintra has built its reputation on its personal, friendly and flexible approach and I see us as an organisation that will always provide a personal service and work in partnership with its clients.

For example, people are amazed that in this technological age we don’t have voicemail! We don’t believe in voicemail. Whenever you call Cintra with a question or a problem, you will always get to speak to a person and not a machine. From our receptionist, to our support desk, implementation team or payroll bureau, you will always be greeted by a friendly voice, ready to help.

I believe that as an organisation Cintra is a different breed. Yes we are commercial and have an eye on the bottom line but we are not wholly profit driven. Outstanding service is paramount.

We are constantly looking to improve and as a company seek to create value in all aspects of our business, from making life easier for our clients and ensuring that our staff are engaged to reach their full potential to enhancing the wider community to which we belong.

We strive to be an organisation that makes a difference – to contribute to society above and beyond being a top notch HR and payroll service provider. This year we have helped raise funds for a local children’s charity, a local hospice, a school building in a remote region of Africa and a water pump for the same African village, so I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far!

 

 

Cintra’s warm-hearted CEO shares his views on auto-enrolment, the company’s leap in the Payroll Top 50 and why he loves doing business from the North of England with Dawn Gay.

Tell me about your journey to becoming CEO at Cintra?

I was working in London at the time and was looking for a payroll provider with the ability to integrate into our management system. I had struggled to find anyone who could meet my requirements and make it commercially viable, when I came across Cintra.

Their can-do attitude really stood out: the implementation was smooth and I was impressed by their great service. I admired the company, so when the opportunity arose, leaving behind the glitz and glamour of a leading global advertising agency to join the Cintra family was an easy decision. I haven’t looked back. It’s easy to be a CEO for such a great organisation!

You work on payrolls for five to 20,000 - what is your philosophy working across such a broad spectrum?

Core to Cintra’s culture is to create a company that, put simply, is the best in our industry, judged by our customers. This is the backbone of everything we do as a company and is reflected in our vision and mission: “Our vision is to be the natural choice for HR and Payroll. Our mission is simple, to keep our customers happy”.

This applies to all of our clients regardless of their size. We have set our stall out as an outstanding provider of HR and payroll services and commit to providing the same level of service, irrespective of whether the client is a small local company or a substantial global organisation.

Tell me about the challenges that you face working across payroll in 27 countries?

Since becoming one of the leading partners in the Payroll Services Alliance (PSA), I have certainly had my eyes opened to the challenges of cross border payroll. In my opinion, the two main challenges are undoubtedly legislation and culture.

It comes as no surprise to me that seven out of 10 of the most complex countries to run payroll are in Europe. As you know there is no one global solution, which is why I believe the PSA is such a great service – it offers the best local knowledge backed by a global outlook.

This in-country expertise allows us to hold a client’s hand and guide them step by step through what can be an extremely complex process, in a language that they understand and on their terms.

To keep things as simple as possible, the PSA offers one contract, one service level agreement and one dedicated point of contact, no matter which country or combination of countries are involved. There are also challenges faced by companies depending on their size – there may be the added complication of interfacing with third party suppliers.

The PSA can give guidance, reassurance and expertise every step of the way. The PSA handles these challenges in exactly the same way that we do at Cintra – by putting the client first, understanding their needs and finding them the best solution.

PSA clients have the best of both worlds: day to day, up to the minute in country expertise, coupled with the ability to access a strategic global overview via the powerful bespoke reporting tools developed by the PSA.

You had your 100th auto-enrolment client recently. Why is this such an amazing progression for Cintra?

The HR and payroll industry has faced a great deal of change and upheaval in recent years, what with RTI, followed by auto-enrolment hot on its heels. Both legislative changes have represented significant challenges to providers such as ourselves and our many clients.

Although fundamentally positive in principle, I think it is widely acknowledged that the precommunication in relation to auto-enrolment could have been better! Cintra faced the challenge of making sure that our software was compliant with the complex legislative requirements, but also that our clients were kept in the loop.

In true Cintra style however we wanted to make sure, not just that our software was compliant, but that it was easy to use and streamlined the processes as much as possible for our customers. We have heard many stories on the grapevine of issues faced by other providers and their clients, so for us 100 smooth implementations and subsequent happy customers is cause for celebration!

You recently made the Payroll Top 50, how did it feel to achieve this?

I was absolutely delighted! The personal recognition is humbling. However, to me it represents a reflection of Cintra as a company: a company which I am honoured to represent. Everything we do at Cintra is based on teamwork and our focus is totally devoted to our wonderful clients: for this to be recognised by the industry is fantastic. I feel privileged to be at the helm of such a great organisation.

Why is the north of England a great placed to be based for payroll?

The North of England is a great place full stop. The pace of change in business conditions today is remarkable and the North East itself has demonstrated a great ability to change and adapt: to redeploy skills and expertise and to welcome and nurture new industries, which enhance its already rich heritage. There is much to admire and enjoy here. I truly am an adopted Geordie!

Seriously though, it offers a good, stable workforce and lower overheads than many other areas of the country. As a region it is renowned for its friendly, open and can do attitude, which is at the heart of Cintra culture and technology means that geographic location isn’t a barrier to doing business.

Providing great service is also high on the agenda and going that extra mile is second nature; another natural fit with the Cintra philosophy.

Cintra really encourage community involvement, why is this a part of your company culture?

I like the Winston Churchill quote: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”. That really sums up how we feel about being a part of the wider community. Corporate responsibility, social accounting, whatever you like to call it. Here at Cintra, helping others is a part of our DNA.

Our staff strive to make a positive impact and we as an organisation actively encourage their enthusiasm, passion and desire to make a difference. What is more we have a lot of fun in doing so! Whether cycling the coast to coast, running the Great North Run, bake days, raffles, taking part in fun runs or the extreme challenge of 10 marathons in 10 months, everyone contributes to our fundraising activities!

Tell me about the Cintra iQ system?

To me, Cintra iQ is the jewel in Cintra’s crown. It is a single, fully integrated solution, utilising the best functions from our award winning HR and payroll products and can be deployed specifically to suit the client’s requirements. The customer has the opportunity to take control of the elements they wish to retain and outsource the rest.

For example, they may choose to retain their HR procedures in-house but wish to outsource their payroll. Cintra iQ offers total flexibility. I’m proud to say that it has, for the past two years, been voted ‘Software Product of the Year’ in the CIPP Awards.

Cintra iQ supports an unlimited number of employees within one database and has the ability to report across the whole organisation. To see it is to love it – honestly, I have yet to see it demonstrated to anyone who hasn’t immediately fallen in love with it.

What is your vision as CEO?

This may sound simplistic, but it is from the heart. In a nutshell: great products, happy staff and happy customers. For me, everything is personal. Cintra has built its reputation on its personal, friendly and flexible approach and I see us as an organisation that will always provide a personal service and work in partnership with its clients.

For example, people are amazed that in this technological age we don’t have voicemail! We don’t believe in voicemail. Whenever you call Cintra with a question or a problem, you will always get to speak to a person and not a machine. From our receptionist, to our support desk, implementation team or payroll bureau, you will always be greeted by a friendly voice, ready to help.

I believe that as an organisation Cintra is a different breed. Yes we are commercial and have an eye on the bottom line but we are not wholly profit driven. Outstanding service is paramount.

We are constantly looking to improve and as a company seek to create value in all aspects of our business, from making life easier for our clients and ensuring that our staff are engaged to reach their full potential to enhancing the wider community to which we belong.

We strive to be an organisation that makes a difference – to contribute to society above and beyond being a top notch HR and payroll service provider. This year we have helped raise funds for a local children’s charity, a local hospice, a school building in a remote region of Africa and a water pump for the same African village, so I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far!