Entrepreneur Alison Sellar is heading off into retirement, together with her husband, Euan, as she hands over the running of the global business she founded in Aberdeen two decades ago.
Mrs Sellar, 51, steps down as chief executive of payroll and employee mobility specialist activpayroll tomorrow (May 28), with Mr Sellar, 57, also giving up his role as chief operating officer.
The couple are moving into non-executive director positions – meaning they will have continued involvement in the business at boardroom level.
Leading the team at activpayroll and having the opportunity to learn from our 1,200 clients has been the privilege of a lifetime.”
Activpayroll said it had already chosen Mrs Sellar’s successor and while the firm did not say who it was, it revealed “he” had been CEO at “a number of leading international businesses”.
His focus will be on supporting customer service excellence and investing in product innovation, a spokewoman for the firm added.
The new CEO is expected to be unveiled next month and will be joined on the new-look management team in July by Iain MacGregor in the post of chief operating officer.
Mr MacGregor has previously held senior management roles at US-based human resources company Ceridian and Belgian payroll solutions firm SD Worx.
Chief financial officer Nick Southwell, chief people officer David Deacon and chairman Jim Faulds are all staying on in their roles at activpayroll, which was launched in 2001.
Significant growth during the pandemic
The business employs more than 300 people globally, of which just over 100 are in Aberdeen.
Headcount has grown by 40% globally since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the company has also opened offices in Dublin, Manchester and Orleans, in France, during the crisis.
Mr and Mrs Sellar, who live in Aberdeen, will retain a “significant” stake in the business, alongside London-based equity investor Tenzing.
Activpayroll announced an investment by Tenzing in January 2020 but did not reveal the size of cash injection delivered in exchange for a 45% stake in the firm.
‘We’ve achieved things I never imagined possible’
Revealing its change at the top today (May 27), activpayroll said the Sellars’ new roles would allow them to take a more active role in “philanthropic causes close to their hearts”.
Mrs Sellar was unavailable but said in a statement: “Leading the team at activpayroll and having the opportunity to learn from our 1,200 clients has been the privilege of a lifetime.
“We’ve achieved things I never imagined possible, and it’s been wonderful seeing the team develop and thrive as we grow internationally.
“I’m excited about the next chapter and will be watching activpayroll’s evolution very closely.”
Activpayroll provides global payroll, employee mobility, HR and international payment services to in excess of 1,200 companies in more than 150 countries.
Its customers range from local charities to global multinationals across a number of sectors, including automotive, aviation, construction, education, energy, food and drink, investment, luxury goods, mining, pharmaceuticals, property, retail, technology, transport and many more.
Top honours over the years include one from the Queen
Alison Sellar was made an OBE in 2018, receiving her honour from the Queen at an investiture ceremony at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
It recognised her services to business in Scotland and abroad, including her involvement in the GlobalScot network of people connecting organisations in Scotland with business leaders worldwide.
Among a string of other accolades over the years, industry peers named her among the top 50 top professionals in her sector globally.
She launched activpayroll in 2001, specialising in oil and gas payroll services. The firm started with two staff and 20 clients.
Yet it was not an oil and gas client which drove her into the global arena. It was an investment bank, a client she picked up in 2004, that needed payroll services in 38 countries.
Life before activpayroll
Before she started up activpayroll she worked for her parents’ accountancy firm.
In January 2017 she made the headlines by raising more than £21,000 for four charities in just eight months.
She took on two momentous cycling challenges across three countries as part of activpayroll’s 2016 corporate social responsibility campaign, #activAlison, raising funds for Women V Cancer, Maggie’s, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and Friends of Anchor.