Sabrina Linsalato is enjoying life as the director of payroll for The Wonderful Company.
Life and work in Los Angeles are just wonderful for Sabrina Linsalato.
That's largely because she works for The Wonderful Company, a private holding firm for food and drink businesses such as POM Wonderful, Fiji Water and Wonderful Pistachios.
Linsalato is the organization's director of payroll. She takes pride in how her team consistently meets the important responsibility of paying — on time — 4,200 employees, a number that increases to 6,000 when field laborers help during harvest season. She believes in the organization's mission to offer consumers healthy products, and a flawless payroll system is her way of furthering that goal.
"It is an action-oriented job," Linsalato says. "We're making sure we meet deadlines to meet funding while having an eye for accuracy. It requires a lot of integrity because it's a confidential and important job. We know if we didn't do it right, no one would get paid and then no one would come to work."
Life, in turn, is wonderful. While hundreds of thousands of motorists grind their way through inarguably the worst commute in the country, Linsalato lives close enough to The Wonderful Company's Los Angeles headquarters to walk there.
"I like that I can walk to work," she says. "It's a great way to decompress every day. I don't like the traffic. I can't stand to be in my car, and admire anyone can who sit in all that traffic."
There is one other reason why work makes Linsalato's life wonderful: she is finally back home and able to spend time with her two nephews. She was raised in Temecula, a city in southern California known for its hillside vineyards and golf courses. She also attended San Diego State University and purposely took her time earning a bachelor's degree. She was a part-time student and full-time worker so she could avoid paying student loans. She graduated in 2004 debt-free with a degree in public administration and urban development. She didn't have a particular affinity for that field, but as a business major it put her on the fastest track to graduation.
After college, Linsalato hit the road. A job underwriting loans and processing mortgages hit a dead end in 2005 just as the economy started to slow, so she became an executive chef's personal assistant for Norwegian Cruise Line. While sailing around the Hawaiian islands, she got her first taste of payroll administration. The job lasted 18 months. She enjoyed the experience, but Linsalato also recognized that "living on a cruise ship is an acquired lifestyle."
Ironically, her next job as a payroll administrator was for a cruise line, Princess Cruises, but this time she stayed on land at a company resort at the base of Mount McKinley in Alaska. Living and working in Hawaii and Alaska only cemented her love for travel to beautiful locales, but an opportunity arrived to work back in the continental U.S.
So for the next three years, Linsalato furthered her payroll leadership skills at Great Northern Staff Administrators (GNSA), a payroll and HR administration services firm in Portland, Oregon. She moved her way through the ranks, becoming the payroll team lead, but family eventually called.
"Life happens," Linsalato recalls. "My sister got married and had kids and moved to California. Not wanting to be away from my family, I moved back to L.A. in 2011."
The decision to move home was a quick one, fueled by an aunt's love. She was helping one of her nephews learn how to ride a bicycle when visiting. He looked at her sweetly and asked when she was moving to California. "Nine days later I found a job," she says.
That job was a two-year stint as a payroll coordinator for an entertainment firm in Los Angeles. She then joined The Wonderful Company. Once again, Linsalato worked her way up the ladder, from payroll team lead to now serving as director of payroll. With the same number of employees in the department, payroll has gone from serving seven pay groups to 24 groups, which are spread out through the U.S., Canada and U.K.
Aside from enjoying her family, Linsalato likes to take a big trip somewhere every two years "just for myself." She adds, "I have to focus on the small wins and self-care. I love to be outside, and walk to work. And I enjoy time with the people who make me happy."
She couldn't imagine having a better career — even though she didn't imagine it when she was younger.
"You can joke around all you want but no one says, 'I want to do payroll when I grow up.' It's something you fall into and learn to enjoy," Linsalato says. "My GNSA boss helped me grow and supported me, and now at The Wonderful Company, I have an another amazing boss who accepts my faults and virtues and lets me run with them."
Featured on SPARK
Subscribe to SPARK updatesSign up