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From Café Owner to Nordic Payroll: Meet Christina Svalestad

Read the story how Christina made a business shift and became a dedicated employee at our Nordic Payroll team.

In a world where chance can lead us down unexpected paths, Christina Svalestad has found her way from the restaurant industry to a flourishing career at Azets. With two years of impressive dedication in the payroll team, Christina has shown that her commitment and talent have found their perfect match. 

Christina's career path wasn't conventional, but it eventually led her to our Nordic payroll team as a payroll coordinator. After spending several years building a local café and bar, she started a thrilling new venture as the manager of a newly opened dining spot in Kløfta on March 1, 2020. When the pandemic hit, and lockdowns and employee layoffs became a reality on March 20, a choice had to be made.

"I stood at a crossroads and had toyed with the idea before. When the pandemic hit, the choice became clear. I decided to pursue online studies in economics to become an accountant, and as I completed my studies, I realized that this was my calling. I've always had an interest in making things work".

I might be a bit more obsessed with structure and order than the average person. 

"It was actually a regular customer from my café who encouraged me to apply for this position at Azets, on a bit of a whim. She spoke highly of the payroll team she worked with and was certain I'd be a good fit here. It sounded exciting to me, so I gave it a shot."

It's a choice I don't regret today, and I look back with immense gratitude at how coincidences and a strong customer relationship could steer me in this direction. 

Building Strong Customer Relationships Is Key 

Even though Christina made a major career change, strong customer relationships remain at the core of her work. In 2021, she joined the Nordic payroll team at Azets as a consultant and quickly took on responsibilities for many interesting clients. The joy of having personal contact with clients has stayed with Christina, something she has always valued in her work. 

"Trustworthy, honest relationships develop faster over the phone and video than through emails! The world is becoming increasingly digital, and having that extra personal touch is invaluable. It's important to us that clients feel seen and heard. Better communication leads to better work and results. I like to talk and try to understand the client before I assist them, so I can be even more helpful next time. In my team, we have a rule of thumb that says if a problem can't be solved in two emails, we schedule a meeting. A good conversation opens the door to discussing and finding solutions together – communication is everything, and everyone benefits when the dialogue is strong on both sides." 



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Much More Than Punching Clocks 

With unique needs in different countries, the job is never dull. Verifying that payroll is handled correctly and maintaining regular contact with clients are some of the tasks Christina takes care of every day. In addition, she's responsible for PMT (Azets' task processing system), resource planning, and efficiency in the Nordic team. 

"My job is to ensure that the right pay is delivered on time, but it's so much more than just punching in hours! The path to the goal can be quite intricate when you consider that we have to keep track of sick pay, collective bargaining agreements, leave rules, laws and regulations regarding travel expenses, vacation laws, and labour laws. It's obvious that this is too much to know off the top of your head, so it's a huge comfort to be part of a large company with easy access to expert knowledge. In addition to overseeing payroll, my role involves a lot of coordination with other departments and authorities, collaboration with client managers in Norway and other Nordic countries, or perhaps connecting the client with our specialist advisers or legal department. Sometimes, I'm the one making a call to the Tax Authority to verify a report on behalf of an international client."

The tasks are very diverse! But the most important thing is that there's nothing we can't solve because we have access to so much knowledge.

Opportunity to Become Specialists 

"The way I work, there's a lot you can become good at. But it's challenging to be an expert at everything, so we're good at leveraging our team and our individual talents. At Azets, we have the opportunity to excel in what we want, and there's a lot of room to become specialists in the areas that we find particularly exciting. We notice where the shoe pinches, and if a colleague of mine is an expert in leave rules in Norway, it's a short path to finding good answers to various questions. The journey starts narrow and expands into many different paths, so we complement each other with the knowledge we acquire." 


When a Cow Appears in a Meeting... 

Christina logs into work from her home office in Frogner, Viken, where she and her family of six live on a small farm. Life in the countryside is filled with joys and challenges, and the ability to be flexible with work hours and location is seen as a great freedom. The hours from six to nine in the morning provide extra peace and tranquillity and have become Christina's best working hours. In addition, working from home can lead to some interesting situations. 

"A good cup of coffee while the sun rises is a luxury in everyday life! The pandemic has broken down some of the formal boundaries that used to define meetings. When a cat shows up on the client's screen, it creates a funny situation and instantly makes us more relaxed and personal."

Once, I had an online meeting with a client in Stockholm, and suddenly, my daughter ran in and said there was a cow in our backyard!

"My meeting client started laughing; it wasn't something they were used to seeing in their daily routine. It became a natural break in the meeting until I managed to guide the three cows back to the enclosure in our garden." 


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When Christina isn't managing the payroll for hundreds of employees, speaking with clients at 6:30 in the morning, or herding cows back to their enclosure, she spends her free time on the local women's handball team she helped start. This is a way to bring together other women who seek belonging and camaraderie – in addition to their passion for the game. A lot of time goes into attending matches and building up the team. Christina also admits that if she had more time, she has a strong interest in vintage cars and gaming, but unfortunately, they don't quite make it to the top of her priority list these days. 

We at Azets are thrilled that the pandemic brought Christina into our fold, allowing us to proudly share delightful customer stories, strong relationships, and secure, long-lasting client relationships all thanks to her and the Nordic payroll team. 

At Azets, we celebrate unconventional career paths and welcome individuals with diverse backgrounds. Just like Christina, who transitioned from the café world to become a valued member of our Nordic payroll team, we encourage you to bring your unique experiences to the table. Your journey matters, and at Azets, we're all about helping you create a one-of-a-kind career path that fits you perfectly. Take a look at our career sites for more information. (Find a good career in Azets)