ADP’s Global Employer Brand Editorial Team, Liz + Kate, catch up with one of our Senior Leaders on the Global Product & Technology Leadership Team, Tashina Charagi, our VP, Operations & Digital Transformation. She shares her career journey, some of the exciting projects she’s worked on, and why it’s such an exciting time to work for ADP.
Welcome, Tashina! Tell us a little about the career path that brought you to ADP.
Sure, so I’m originally a technologist by training with a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I worked as a software developer before going back to school for an MBA. I worked on a Windows Mobile phone (if you remember, the thing that looked like a Blackberry). That was around the time Apple introduced the iPhone, and the competition pretty much crushed us. I realized that in my role as an engineer, I didn’t have a full view of what was going on in the market, what customer preferences were, or how strategically we make some decisions. I took that as the impetus to go and broaden my business education.
After getting my MBA, I ended up consulting, again with the same desire to broaden my education and learn about different industries.
As I reached mid-career in consulting, even though I enjoyed the work I did with technology applications and the impact I was driving, I realized the amount of travel wasn’t feasible anymore. The second thing I realized was that I couldn’t see the final impact of my work. I couldn’t see the actual human impact or benefit to clients. That’s what I wanted more of, so I ended up looking at ADP.
At the time, I knew the reputation of ADP and the kind of work they were doing. Most importantly, I knew that they were going through a transition, and they were at a critical point in time. Our CEO liked to say we were a “75-mile-march” company. We’ve been around for a long time, but at every single phase of our life at ADP, we have made significant changes required to serve our clients in the best possible way.
When I joined ADP, they were in the midst of investing in next-generation products and divesting non-core areas of focus like Dealer Services. So it was a transition period, which I thought would be a great time to join the company and lead through that exciting change.
Wow, that’s a fabulous answer. What has your journey been since you got here?
Yeah, I joined the Corporate Strategy group. I was fortunate that I got to work on some big and exciting projects. One of the first projects I worked on—the one I’m the proudest of—was under the Obama administration when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidelines for how a company needs to report pay equity, which had become a very important issue.
At ADP, we started discussing how to enable our clients to comply with these changes in regulations. But really, what we needed to do was take a step back to make sure all our business units approached this cohesively. An interesting conversation came up about how ADP pays 1 out of 6 people in the United States, which meant we had a treasure trove of data regarding pay equity. Across a worker’s lifetime, we touch 90% of US workers in some way. We realized we had an opportunity to go further than meeting minimum compliance. We could offer our clients something above and beyond that.
An example of how a client could use that data would be if they wanted to expand into a new geography or enable a new kind of role for the first time. Often clients have questions like, “What do people make in this city for this role?” or, “Where are pay scales rising – both by geography and by roles?”
We had that data. We just needed to aggregate it and eliminate identifiable information.
Taking that data, we built analytics on top using AI and machine learning and provided dashboards for our clients to look at equity in a more comprehensive manner. So, not just like, “Hey, I need to fill out these forms,” but we looked at it with a feature focus: “In this geography, am I being competitive to the geography and this role?” What about diversity? “Am I being competitive across every diversity element?”
The product we developed was so different from anything that was on the market at that point. For two years, we won product awards for that offering. And what excited me was that this wasn’t a client “ask” of ADP. We took the initiative to serve our clients in a way they hadn’t thought of or expected. Those are the type of opportunities that I’m excited about here at ADP.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a couple of high-impact projects that are cross-functional and span multiple business units. That really excites me, too.
What roles have mentors and or sponsors played in your career as you’ve navigated your journey here at ADP?
Yeah, I would say a couple of things. One was pretty early in my journey here, when I worked on some of these massive cross-business unit opportunities. There’s no way I would have been successful or have a successful team without having these mentors and sponsors who could get me deeper into the requirements for each of the different business units. They helped me understand how the business units were structured and how I could best use the resources we have here at ADP. Mentors, specifically, have played a significant role in my ability to succeed in these huge projects.
I’ll use my current role in digital transformation as an example in terms of having a sponsor. I was coming back from my second maternity leave and trying to figure out my future at ADP. Don Weinstein, who was my manager in my strategy role, was the one who brought up the GPT role where I ended up. I’ve been in this role for the last two and a half years. Sponsors have played an important role in making me aware of various opportunities, or in this case, creating an opportunity for me. So that’s been quite good, I’d say.
Have you ever been a mentor for someone else?
Yes, definitely. I’ll give one specific example. There was an associate who worked with me on a couple of different projects. I thought she was fantastic. She wanted to get broader experience outside of the United States. I was able to talk her through her options and give her some feedback on how to think about positioning and opportunities. Now, she’s in Europe in her next role, which she loves, and with a team who absolutely loves her too. So, that’s one example of mentoring, but I have had a couple of other opportunities. Each of them has been very exciting.
With most organizations still working remotely due to the pandemic, how are you staying connected with your teams and keeping everyone motivated?
Obviously, 2020 and 2021 have been very challenging. What’s resonated well, silly maybe, but we’ve exchanged a lot of memes and jokes. Our WebEx Teams rollout helped us keep in touch through instant messaging and made that easier.
On the serious side, our Senior leadership team has always had monthly check-ins. We’ve made them more robust. So, it’s not just about updates on specific products. We added more white space to focus on the “water cooler” talk. Things like casual problem solving, “Hey, we have these dependencies, what do you think?” or, “Hey, I’m kind of stuck on this one thing. Have you guys solved this before?”
I think we’ve also done a pretty good job of including some social aspects during these meetings. We’ve had happy hours, and that’s been pretty great…and enjoyable. There have been happy hours where we’re looking out over a waterfront in Brazil in the background. Another positive, as weird as ’20-’21 has been, there’s been this sense of closeness. You’ve seen inside people’s homes. You’ve seen their pets and kids in the background. I feel that made us feel more connected and human, more so now than ever before.
Why do you think it’s a great time for people to join and a tech career?
If you think about all the different things going on right now in human capital management, supporting workers is an essential piece. Besides the pandemic and working remotely, base labor force changes make HCM an interesting and impactful place to be. We are truly impacting people’s lives in a positive way. That’s one big reason why being at ADP is exciting.
Then, within ADP, I would say that the transition that made me join is continuing and going into the next phase of that transition. We’re still doing work on our next-gen products, but we are also doing more work around analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), and such things as rolling out chatbots. As I keep working on these technologies, I try to reach out to the industry to understand the best practices. In some cases, I’ve come to realize that we are on the cutting edge with these technologies, pushing the boundaries and defining the best practices. I’m excited to come to work every day. I hope anybody joining would feel the same way.
How do you incorporate culture into your everyday work?
One of the biggest things that I’ve taken away from seeing how our CEO Carlos Rodrigues and the rest of the executive team works has been humility. That, and a feeling of equality, ensuring everybody’s voice is heard. That resonates with me a lot. I think that feeds through into our culture. Those things have always been a part of every team I’ve worked on.
It’s not only about a leader’s voice here. There’s no dictatorship. It has always been about listening to everybody’s voice and coming to a consensus. So, those qualities: humility and that feeling of equality, carry forward in all the work we do.
What’s your advice for anyone looking to pursue a career with ADP?
LOL, apply at tech.adp.com? Kidding aside, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love our experiences at ADP, and I would love to have more people engaged.
So, what does work-life balance mean to you? And how are you able to achieve that working here?
What work-life balance means to me is that you get your work done in the time that you have during the day without necessarily having to work 9 to 5 on somebody else’s schedule. As a mom of two young kids, I’ll give you an example that happened to me today. My child’s daycare had some heating problems, so they had to cancel daycare, and my daughter is at home. So, my husband and I traded off on the responsibility to watch her around our meeting schedules. I don’t know any other company where I could tell my team and my manager, “Hey, guys, I just need to be flexible for the next couple of hours,” and have an outpouring of support with things like: “What we can do?”, “Yes, absolutely,” “Happy to move things.”
Managing my schedule and having flexibility means a lot to me. It’s not to say you don’t get things done that need to get done. You still do that. It means when things come up, there is an understanding and the ability to be flexible. That’s really important to me.
I think that’s super important for many people right now, just based on what’s happening globally. Great story. Do you belong to any Business Resource Groups (BRGs)? Which ones?
I belong to several BRGs. One I’d love to talk about is Women in Leadership (WIL) and the access it gives me. When I was doing this pay equity work, I reached out to a bunch of folks through the WIL network to get some feedback on specific user screens that we were putting inside our product.
The BRG gave me exposure to senior leaders, who manage hundreds, if not thousands, of people at a time. To get feedback from them as users and hear them answer the question, “What would you do as a manager?” was really powerful. That’s a tactical example of where a BRG was helpful in my work. More broadly, especially in today’s world, BRGs are an excellent resource for making connections. They organize all kinds of events, virtual for now, to keep people connected. Recently, our Women in Leadership BRG had a virtual event focused on resilience. They brought in a Peloton trainer (Robin Arzon) who was a motivational speaker. Super inspiring. I find it energizing to learn from people I might not work with every day.
What’s your favorite thing about where you work?
It’s definitely the people. In today’s world, I miss walking into someone’s office when I have a question. That’s changed in the virtual world, but we still do it, just in a different way. The thing I love is still the people that I work with and the trust we have. We’re there for one another—and that’s special.
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