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JDI’s Charlene Stoddard Wins Top Award in Canada

Congratulations to Charlene Stoddard for achieving the top certification award in Canada by the Canadian Payroll Association. Charlene received the award at the CPA National Conference in Vancouver in June. Charlene was also recognized recently for achieving the highest standing in the Atlantic Region.

“It’s been an amazing experience and I am so grateful to JDI for its support,” Charlene said. 

Charlene is one of the newest members of the JDI Payroll team. After unexpectedly losing her job from another company two and a half years ago, Charlene made the choice to go back to school full-time to achieve her Accounting/Payroll Diploma. During her first month at college, she attended a student's success strategy course where she was asked to compile a list of three employers that she would like to work for.

“J.D. Irving, Limited was my number one choice,” said Charlene. “From that time on it was my goal to have my student work term at JDI in the hopes of pursuing a career with the company. I was fortunate to be able to spend my school work term as part of the payroll team; I was then offered a student contract for the summer. And in August 2012, I was offered a full-time position with the team.”

Charlene’s top national honour was profiled in the Canadian Payroll Reporter. (See article below)

Charlene is one of four members of JDI's payroll team who were recognized in May for achieving the Payroll Compliance Practitioner Certification (PCP).
1. Charlene Stoddard, PeopleSoft CSR
2. Heather Paulin, Payroll Specialist
3. Brandi Seaward, Benefits Coordinator
4. Cheryl Larsen, Payroll Specialist

Earning a payroll certification is a major achievement. The CPA certified members add value to all aspects of JDI's payroll operations. The distinction also positions them as leaders creating more opportunity for career advancement.
CPA certification represents JDI's commitment to a national standard of excellence and continuous improvement. CPA certified employees at JDI inspire confidence because they have made a commitment to high standards of quality, efficiency and knowledge.
The newest members join a nationwide network of fellow professionals who represent the CPA’s long-standing reputation of integrity and excellence.
JDI is pleased to have a total of 32 certified professionals working within the company:
• 6 Certified Payroll Managers (CPM)
• 20 Payroll Compliance Practitioners (PCP)
• 5 Payroll Compliance Practitioners (in progress)
• 1 Certified Payroll Practitioner (United States) (CPP)  
In addition, JDI has 2 employees that are CPA Course Instructors/Subject Matter Experts, and another employee who is on the Federal Government Relations Advisory Council for the Association.
Looking for career opportunities? JDI is currently seeking a number of payroll positions within the company. Visit to register and apply today.

About the CPA
The Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) has influenced the payroll compliance practices and processes of hundreds of thousands of employers since 1978. The CPA’s mission is Payroll Leadership through Advocacy and Education. With more than 16,500 organization and individual members, the CPA is committed to providing the payroll-related services payroll professionals and their employers need to be compliant and knowledgeable.
Pursuing Payroll Profession Leads to Gold
Losing her job was one of the best things to happen to Charlene Stoddard.
- Zachary Pedersen, Editor, Canadian Payroll Reporter
When Charlene Stoddard lost her job in March 2011, she had no idea how much her life would change in just over two years. By day, the Saint John-native was used to being an administrative assistant at an interior decorating firm. By night, she was a caregiver to her husband, who had been disabled in an accident 15 years earlier. Stoddard also has an adult-aged daughter, who was also living with disabilities.

“Like anyone else, I was really devastated when I lost my job,” she says. “But I’m also the type of person that says, ‘Okay, I’m going to get up and what am I going to do?’”

Stoddard paid a visit to Service Canada.

“I went to EI (employment insurance) and they have a seminar that everybody has to take and I made an appointment to see someone from social development,” she says.

Stoddard felt the best thing for her to do was tune up her computer skills — something she hadn’t needed before, but thought might open some doors to future possibilities.

But the social development representative had a different plan.

“She said she had been doing this for over 30 years and she thought I was the perfect candidate to go back to school full-time,” Stoddard says.
Stoddard hadn’t been to school in years. She didn’t even have any post-secondary schooling.

Social development would provide financial support for Stoddard, but in order to qualify, she needed to choose a career area with a high possibility of leading to employment.

The payroll field was a hotspot for jobs.

The two decided that come September, Stoddard should enrol in the accounting and payroll diploma program at Eastern College in Saint John. With her high attention to detail and strong problem solving and math skills, Stoddard would be an excellent candidate, the social development representative told her.

“I went home to talk to my husband to see if this is something I thought I could do,” she says. “But then she called me just a few days later and told me the funding was going to change and it was not going to be in my favour.”

In order to qualify for better funding, Stoddard would have to start much sooner than initially thought – and she had only 24 hours to decide.

Stoddard turned to her husband for guidance.

“He just really said, ‘You know what, you've looked after both of us and you've raised a son beside that — this is your time,” she says.

In that moment, Stoddard’s life headed in a new direction.

“Instead of starting school in four months or five months, I was starting school in three days,” she says. “And I did it.”

Going back to school for payroll was one of the best experiences Stoddard has ever had.

“I was really nervous at first,” she says. “But once I got settled in, I thought, ‘Yeah, this is now what I do.’”

Stoddard treated school as a full-time job. Classes ran from 8 a.m. to noon, but she would remain on campus until 5 p.m. to study and finish assignments.

“I used to take my lunch and just go,” she says. “That gave me time to get all my work done and not be distracted.”

Stoddard hadn’t really worked with numbers in any of her previous jobs, besides verifying some financial information for the interior design firm. Instead of worrying, she embraced the new challenge.

Canadian Payroll Association certification
Eastern College’s accounting and payroll program includes an eight-week segment designated to training students to become a certified Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP), which is regulated by the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA). Having the PCP designation demonstrates to employers that the individual has the compliance knowledge required to process an organization’s annual payroll cycle and understand the accounting function as it relates to payroll, according to the CPA.

Stoddard describes the eight weeks as “intense.”

“I had a couple of instructors that were really great and they just said, ‘You know, you really, really need to have yourself ready for that eight weeks because if you want to do well, you're going to have to be just focused on that,” she says.

The hard work paid off. Out of 1,800 professionals who received PCP certification in 2012, Stoddard was at the top. She managed to finish her certification with an average of 99 per cent and a mark of 100 per cent on the compliance and legislation component.

In June, the CPA invited Stoddard to receive her gold award at their annual awards banquet, held in Vancouver.

“It’s really humbling and really, really exciting,” Stoddard said after winning the gold award.

“She’s a driven individual, she had a goal in mind and she was able to succeed in doing that, so it’s a real success story,” says Steven Van Alstine, vice-president of education at the CPA in Toronto.

It’s important to recognize success in the payroll community, Van Alstine says.

“We’ve been working hard to raise the profile of the payroll professional and by having awards that can reinforce that, it also helps to raise the profile within the business community,” he says.

Van Alstine says winning one of their awards is something to be proud of.

“In order to be at the top of the class, students need to be dedicated to learning and understanding the myriad of legislation and regulations associated with payroll,” he says. “Many of the award winners have developed a passion for what they do and that has propelled them to their success.”
Stoddard credits taking care of her family as a key propellant to her success.

“My husband didn’t even drive for seven years. So, all the skills that it took to take care of him and my family helped me when I went back to school,” she says. “And that’s what I try to tell people.”

Back at work
Stoddard currently works at J.D. Irving, Limited in Saint John. She requested to complete her four-week unpaid work placement at the company when she was at Eastern College.

“J.D. Irving was the top of my list of where I wanted to do my student placement,” she says. “In my second week that I was here, my manager spoke to me and offered me a paid student contract for the summer for four months.”

She was offered a full-time position towards the end of the summer and now works on their PeopleSoft team, which supports the payroll department.

Stoddard says she’s so grateful for everything that has happened to her.

“When I look back now — just over two years from losing my job — I remember how I felt then to where I am now,” she says. “It's pretty amazing.”

2013 Canadian Payroll Association certification winners
Gold - Charlene Stoddard, Saint John, N.B.
Silver - Wenhelzaviency Ong, Scarborough, Ont.
Bronze- Jennifer Lockridge, Fredericton, N.B.

Steven Van Alstine, Vice President Education of the Canadian Payroll Association presents Charlene Stoddard with the 2013 CPA Certification Gold Achievement Award in Vancouver, BC.

(Left to right) Cheryl Larsen, Payroll Specialist; Brandi Seaward, Benefits Coordinator; Charlene Stoddard, PeopleSoft CSR; Mandy Burns, Payroll Coordinator (received her certification in 2012) ; and Heather Paulin, Payroll Specialist