Meet our Members: Patricia Schwichtenberg
Who is your hero?
My paternal grandmother. She came from county cork Ireland to USA in 1913. She was a very strong independent, firm, yet caring grandma. She was always there for us. We lived with her during the week as my parents worked. I come from a family of police & fire (her sons) so she knew what to do and they trusted her. My family to this day says I look and act like her, which I am okay with.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Alabama – over my 50 years of vacationing and visiting many states; I prefer the southeast or warm states. Even vacationing to tropical islands, cruises, Canada and Mexico, while I enjoyed them, I loved Alabama the most, the city of Gulf Shores. I would love to retire and go live there fulltime. The weather is great close to the ocean. I know there are some scary storms or hurricanes to deal with.
What is your biggest fear?
Dying too soon or suddenly. I believe in God and know I have nothing to be fearful of, but I do not want to have to leave my family to soon I’d like to be at least 100 and somewhat healthy for that age before I let them go.
What is your favorite family vacation?
Going to Disney World with my children and grandchildren in our RV. They love it and while exhausting, I love it too for them. We started going just 8 years ago. This year with COVID and all the world issues, we are home enjoying time in our backyards and camping in the RV in our driveway with them.
What would you change about yourself if you could?
My temperament and setting the bar too high. I would love to be able to not stress and get anxiety over the things I cannot control. Trying to ensure perfection of the payroll processing and most things in life is tough. I set the bar high in the payroll department when it comes to the output of pay checks in pay day.
What really makes you angry?
Repeated mistakes and bad practices in work and life.
What fictional character do you most relate to?
Zena, the (payroll) princess warrior. Trying to keep the employees happy and ensuring no errors come out of the department into paychecks.
What motivates you to work hard?
I like challenges and knowledge. My career in PR/HR and seeing how networking and keeping up on things with fellow peers, allows me to also mentor others, be a subject matter expert and share that knowledge with others is very rewarding.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
Being able to interact with all levels of the company and people. When you work with great people and networking with my fellow payroll pros makes it easy.
What is your biggest strength that makes you successful?
Applying my work years of experience and knowledge to my day to day work life.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
In work life and career, attaining my CPP in 2001. I remember the president of the company I was working at, came in to congratulate me and say how proud he was. He stated it would get me far in life as knowledge is power. He was right it brought me to where I am now.
If you could compare your job to a movie, which title seems most appropriate?
Ground Hog Day – ever feel like the same mistakes, people and troubles happen, same day & time.
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
Working for a Living by Huey Lewies & the News.
What made you passionate about payroll?
I was an office worker way back when, where I was hired to be doing a variety of office, accounting, customer service, check cashing, rents, payroll, taxes. Enjoyed it and it was shown, so they offered me a payroll role. It was fun to me and I just wanted to learn as must as I can. Of course, I enjoyed the challenges and working with employees of all levels and governmental laws it touched.
What do you think could change this industry for the better?
If everyone would follow the rules and not make exceptions.
Why should people want to pursue payroll as a professional?
Its a great role. You have interactions with many levels of people in the company from HR, Benefits, Accounting, Auditing, Executives, shop floor, maintenance, and much more. Its where everyone goes and everyone knows your name.
What is the most fulfilling part of your membership in FVPA?
I have been a FVPA member since 2000 and an APA National member since 1997. I thought what a wonderful way to network, get knowledgeable insight from those in payroll, as well as many areas of the business industry under HR and accounting. Without the chapter I would not have been able to pass the CPP exam. The chapter membership offers training, study classes and being able to reach out to board members for help with questions, as well as seeing them as mentors. I think all roads lead to certification and knowledge. It is such a great group. It is such a fulfilling experience, that I went on to serve 4 terms as Education Director and 4 terms as President. Having memberships in what we love and how we interact as payroll pros, helps in our career paths. If it weren’t for the Chapter I would not be where I am today. We all share our knowledge, experience and understanding in many areas and processing pays. And it is a great add on your resume, many employers look for that nowadays. I hope to continue another 19 years.