Q&A with Kathy Ross, Paylocity’s New SVP of OperationsJanuary 03, 2023
Get to know a little about Kathy and her perspective on operations at Paylocity.
Paylocity is excited to welcome our newest member of the leadership team, Kathy Ross, Senior Vice President of Operations. Kathy has worn many hats across her extensive career at companies like Aramark, ADP, and Abbott, from selling payroll door-to-door to launching new businesses to leading businesses up to $650M in revenue. But when Kathy talks about her journey, one theme quickly emerges: people. At Paylocity, Kathy oversees operations including implementation, client services, technical services, and tax and treasury. Learn more about the person leading Paylocity’s operations strategy.
Q: Why is this the right time to join Paylocity?
Three years ago, I took a 180 degree turn in my career and joined a healthcare technology company leading their toxicology business (i.e., drug testing and occupational health testing.) It was a fascinating change after 25 years in human capital management (HCM), moving into a whole new world of understanding drugs of abuse and forensic science. I thought I’d remain in healthcare the rest of my career and enjoy it.
That said, I also knew the only way I’d return to the HCM industry would be with a differentiated HCM company, and Paylocity is just that. I knew from my 25 years with ADP that Paylocity was doing something different and had a stellar culture. And when the Paylocity recruiter reached out, it was a life-changing call.
Q: What makes Paylocity different?
Since the beginning, Paylocity has been committed to creating a culture of care. A lot of companies focus first on their clients, but I think they’re jumping over a critical element of being able to do that — their own employees. I fundamentally believe that until our employees are cared for, they can’t properly care for our clients. Paylocity puts our employees at the center of everything we do, because that enables them to then care for our clients.
There’s an authenticity behind Paylocity’s belief systems that stands out versus our competition. Business decisions are made with intentional consideration of the impact they’ll have on our employees and also those of our clients’ employees. Paylocity is always looking ahead, and our core values drive decisions that stay true to who we are first and foremost.
I’ve heard clients say that we care more than other vendors. That comes from our culture, which upholds our values. Engaged employees drive the best experience for our clients, and Paylocity’s belief in its people is what makes this true.
Plus, Paylocity is now the first company on my resume that doesn’t start with “A!”
Q: Why is caring a priority for you and Paylocity?
We’re helping HR professionals take care of the most important interactions they have with their employees. On the other side of every interaction we have with our clients is a person who needs help. A phone call or email isn’t just a “transaction.” It’s one of the most important exchanges an employee may have with their employer, and it’s our privilege to facilitate that.
How we serve our clients can mean the difference between whether an employee can pay their rent or their electric bill or whether they get the medical care they need. Or it could be someone waiting to hear about a job offer so they can make a decision that will impact the rest of their life. It’s imperative we act with heart and empathy for both our clients and the people they support. We impact thousands of lives every day.
Q: You’ve championed women in business throughout your career. Why is that important to you?
When I was starting a family, I was one of very few working women with young children in my neighborhood and at work. I always felt pressured to align with traditional societal norms even though financially that would have been extremely hard to do. I was always torn and worried what would become of our children with me working full time and traveling frequently. I thought I should feel guilty for working, and wondered whether our children would grow up as normal, contributing, well-adjusted citizens.
As I grew in my career and began to develop a network of other working mothers, I realized how important it is for us to support one another and show younger mothers that working and raising a thriving family is possible. I’m now an active member of several female leadership networks, including C200 and the Exceptional Women’s Alliance (EWA), where we invest in women to help them develop and elevate their careers. Without these women and their unconditional support, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I wouldn’t have raised two incredible, young adult children while working.
I’m a big believer that as we climb, we are obligated to also lift others with us. I am committed to paying it back for others because I have seen the value and reward I’ve achieved by doing what I needed to do for my family — guilt free. I shed my guilt years ago because our family never suffered with me working. In fact, it was the opposite. Our children have seen that a working mother can be successful both at work and at home. Because of my career, our children have had to learn skills like adaptability and confidence that they never would have learned if we didn’t relocate three times during their childhood. They have traveled the world, and they appreciate culture and diversity, largely because of what my career has enabled us to do. We have two confident and capable adult kids whom I am immensely proud of because of what I have given them through my career. I want this for other working moms, so I do my best to help others experience the same as they grow in their careers.
Q: How do mentorship and advocacy play out at Paylocity?
We have a very open and engaged collection of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that celebrate our differences and help us actively support one another. Only when everyone feels included, appreciated, and supported — that’s when we as a company do our best work.
Tauhidah Shakir, our Vice President Chief Diversity Officer, recently explained to me why Paylocity adapted the acronym “DEIA.” Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is fairly common, yet we include “A” for accessibility because we wanted to look at our employees’ needs through that lens. For example, do we provide the right technology for everyone based upon their ability to see, hear, and learn? How do we ensure all employees have access to the individual benefits that will truly benefit them the most? Paylocity believes that the success of the company starts with our people. That means everyone needs to be able to bring their whole selves to work, and we need to ensure our environment supports each person.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve been married for 29 years and have two children, one in medicine and the other in film, of whom I could not be more proud. When our adult children are around, they are my highest priority.
I love to learn and I love history, so I’m always reading, listening, and talking to people about what’s going on in the world. That passion extends to travel — I’ve been to more than 28 countries so far and hoping to add more next year. As a graduate of Cornell University’s hotel management program, I’m a bit of a foodie and always appreciate a fine meal. When I’m not working, reading, or traveling, you can find me skiing or playing tennis. I’ve also just picked up pickle ball, so come join me on the courts!
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