It was my distinct pleasure to have Pete Tiliakos, global payroll product strategy leader for Alight Solutions, as my guest for this episode of the #HRTechChat video podcast. Pete's latest role is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to his experience, expertise and, really, authority in the domain of payroll. Most recently, Pete was an analyst at two different firms. Before that, he was payroll solution architect at IBM and senior consultant, human capital management, at Deloitte Consulting, in that order. Back in the early aughts, notably, he was payroll leader for shared services at Disney Worldwide. Put differently, to say Pete is an expert in payroll is an understatement. Returning to the present, "It's an exciting time to be in the industry," said Pete, who's also a member of our Global Executive Advisory Council. "It feels like all that experience has really caught a wave."
During our chat, we shared takeaways in the wake of this year's triumphant return of the HR Technology Conference & Expo. Triumphant does seem like an appropriate word. Regarding the conference, "To me that was the biggest, boldest, most vibrant, most alive event I've seen in a long time," Pete said. "There's a lot of talk about a recession and a slowdown and things, but what we're seeing is that talent is still very important. And then, of course, we saw payroll well represented."
The possibilities around payroll are greater and more progressive today than we even would have fathomed 10 years ago. The train has left the station, so to speak, and our concept of what payroll can and does mean has expanded. "I just think it's great to see all the investment and focus on payroll," Pete said. "COVID really provided that spotlight, where payroll became infinitely more important compared to how it had been treated in the past."
It's almost as if business leaders are finally seeing the processing of payroll for what it is: not a mere cost to contain, but an investment, just as their people's pay itself is an investment, too. Pete and I delved deeply into all of this, the transformation of payroll — as evidenced by our conversations out in the wild, at HR Technology Conference — and how payroll professionals can seize the moment to become strategic advisors to their organizations. It's one thing to be highly skilled in work that organizational leadership may view as background noise. It's quite another to become bearers of crucially informative data that can change the C-suite's basic understanding of the workforce. That's when payroll and strategy start to occupy the same sentences.
I really enjoyed this discussion with Pete and highly encourage readers to tune into this episode.