Ramona Dzinkowski, journalist

In an age where switching jobs every two years is not uncommon, there’s a lot to be said for sticking with one good company. This is exactly the approach adopted by Michael Ellis, vice president of project services at ADP, a comprehensive global provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions, business outsourcing services and analytics.

‘It’s not hard to stay the course with one company that allows you to advance in the direction you want,’ he says. For a young accountant with C-suite ambitions, ADP would do just that.

Over the course of his 23-year career with the company, Ellis has held a number of  senior financial management roles – first in the UK and then in New Jersey, US, where he relocated from Surrey in 2014 to take up the position of CFO of ADP’s multinational business.

‘I’ve always tended to be more interested in the commercial aspects within finance’

As CFO, Ellis was a key contributor to achieving double digit average revenue growth in the multinational business between 2014 and 2022 strengthening the margin level over this period. The key to that success, he says, was partnering with the sales organisation in closing key large deals; reducing costs and implementing productivity initiatives designed to increase operating margins; and collaborating with the business leadership to drive a transformation agenda through digital automation and location strategies.



Vice president, project services, multinational business, ADP, US


CFO, multinational business, ADP, US


Vice president, finance, streamline, ADP, UK




Finance manager, ADP UK


Finance controller, Airline Clearing, ADP UK


Finance manager AFP Technology, UK


Management accountant, Messer Group, UK

At the same time, Ellis would take on the integration of ADP’s acquisition of global payroll provider Celergo in 2018. As with many integrations, this involved aligning reporting systems, finance cycles, timelines and policies.

From CFO to VP

In 2022, Ellis decided to make operations and business development his core focus, switching from CFO to vice president of project services. This would mean taking on a more direct leadership role in building ADP’s multinational consulting business.

‘I’ve always tended to be more interested in the commercial aspects within finance, helping support the sales organisation,’ he says. ‘Our project services team supports client in getting the most out of their global payroll and time investment. Providing consulting, solution design and implementation services to help client prepare and execute their global payroll journey, keeping their payroll and time strategy optimise, aligned and meeting their evolving needs.’

‘Finding a company that you believe in, and that you share values and culture with, can be quite rare’

When it comes to being an effective leader of an organisation, knowing the numbers is one thing, he says, but actually understanding the story behind those numbers is much more powerful. ‘That’s an area I’ve always focused on, which has naturally driven me to the business side of the company,’ he says.

‘That’s one of the great things about my current role; I’m the one who’s responsible for building the company’s offerings and delivering the numbers.’

Shared values

As a member of the leadership team of a global company for 23 years, Ellis has clearly been involved in many projects, seen many changes, and been faced with many challenges. ‘I’ve had a great opportunity to be in a myriad of different roles within the organisation, in different parts of the business and through some exciting times in those businesses,’ he says.

‘Once you have the experience, it puts you into a whole other sphere of opportunity and opens doors’



Number of ADP offices worldwide


Number of employees


Annual revenues in 2022


Consecutive years ADP has been included in Fortune magazine’s ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ list

Yet, what he is most proud of, he says, is his longevity at ADP. ‘Finding a company that you believe in, and that you share values and culture with, can be quite rare,’ he says. ‘Finding a company that believes in you and invests time in you can be even rarer. For my career, this has resulted in a long-term, very successful partnership.’

Stepping stone

For Ellis, the ACCA Qualification was a critical stepping stone to his success. His first exposure to the qualification came through ACCA’s partnership with Thames Valley University in the UK – where he gained a diploma in professional accounting – followed by an ACCA partnership with a local company that was an ACCA-approved employer, where he would be taken on as a trainee.

‘The ACCA courses were part of the training programme back in the mid-1990s,’ he explains, ‘and that galvanised the approach to my education.’

However, it was more than just a happy coincidence that Ellis would choose the ACCA as his accounting designation. ‘When I first started looking at the ACCA syllabus back in college, it was very business oriented and that held a great deal of appeal to me,’ he recalls. ‘It had a good balance of technical knowledge with business skills, economics, law and strategy.’

After completing the course, Ellis realised that he had taken the right route to expanding his career options. ‘Once you get the qualification and have the work experience, it puts you into a whole other sphere of opportunity and opens doors to a lot of prospective employers,’ he says, adding that he went on to achieve the University of London’s MSc in professional accountancy in 2017.

‘Doing the degree might even have been the catalyst for my keen interest in operations, while providing me with the skills to climb the finance ladder into the CFO’s office.’