Tech & Innovation Blog
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Agile allows teams to move faster and build better products, enabling developers to work through the development cycle in a shorter timeframe.
Nicole P., Senior Director of Application Development
Coming to ADP
Nicole P., Senior Director of Application Development, celebrates her 15th work anniversary at ADP. She received her master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Georgia and started working as an Application Developer in 2007. “I look for the opportunities to grow, learn, and make an impact,” Nicole said. “I stay because I have never run out of opportunities to develop professionally. There are always interesting topics to tackle at ADP.”
Her current project transforms and streamlines the Sales and Underwriting process for ADP’s TotalSource business while providing a user-friendly, digitally guided Prospect Portal Experience to engage and delight prospective clients. “The project also reinforces our value by providing data-driven insights throughout the entire sales process,” Nicole said.
“As a technologist, STEM is about problem-solving and innovating. It equips us to solve different challenges in the world,” Nicole said. Her first internship after graduate school later turned into a full-time job, creating device drivers that controlled satellite broadcast equipment. “I was amazed to create something out of nothing. With just bits and bytes, this equipment could control the equipment from anywhere in the world. I still feel the magic today in performing tasks with new technologies.”
Nicole believes her passion for always looking for creative solutions drives her in the STEM field. “There’s nothing more energizing than having a supportive team, a whiteboard, and a problem to solve,” Nicole said. “It is rewarding to make progress that helps drive business outcomes for our clients. I enjoy the opportunity to problem-solve in my daily job.”
Traditional Vs. Agile Methodology
“I learned about the differences between the traditional and agile methodology in one of my projects. We started with traditional waterfall and transitioned to using the agile methodology,” Nicole said. “As the project progressed, we solved the bugs we found earlier. My team found early testing and feedback to be helpful and led us to find problems sooner.”
Standard waterfall methodology takes a very linear view of problem-solving and application development with heavy upfront analysis followed by design and development. This process might require months or even years before the team ever got to collect client feedback. By then, client needs might have changed, and the solution may no longer fit their needs.
On the other hand, the Agile methodology allows teams to move faster and build better products. The method enables developers to work through the development cycle in smaller increments time-boxed in a few weeks. “The agile method allows us to code tests and get feedback early. As a result, we end up with a better product overall, incorporating the ability to pivot as a client’s needs change,” Nicole said.
Team Efforts: Collaboration
“One of the challenges in working with multiple teams across many initiatives is to make sure that we are collaborating in a way that allows us to leverage all the exciting innovation happening across the organization,” Nicole said. She ensures developers aren’t duplicating efforts and building the same things across different teams. “We must be certain to prioritize the right initiatives that drive the most values for our clients and business outcomes at ADP.”
Nicole tracks remote work and hybrid workforce models in application development, imagining the future. “We’re going to see a lot more applications and innovative technologies to help teams stay connected and engaged in projects, and helping companies manage their remote workforce.” Read about how AI/ML are driving innovation and opportunities at ADP and watch the 2022 Workforce Trends video here.
Proudest Project: Transformation
Nicole was proudest of a project called Greenfield. The project completely transformed the way that our TotalSource business services clients. “Our tech team for HRO and our TotalSource business teams partnered together to reimagine our internal business processes, service model, and technology, enabling our ADP outsourcing business to grow and provide best-in-class service for our clients,” Nicole said. “It was the most interesting, exciting, and challenging project for me. We came together to solve impactful problems for our clients and businesses while innovating with the latest technologies.”
During this time, Nicole’s team also underwent an exciting Agile transformation, releasing features at the end of much shorter development sprints. “We were putting valuable software into the hands of our clients and business partners much faster and more frequently,” Nicole said. “Ultimately, that allowed us to build an even better product due to a quicker feedback loop and the ability to pivot as business needs and priorities changed.”
“Using Agile, we involved our entire development organization, 15 scrum teams, and our business partners,” Nicole said. “It’s been about five years since we our transformation, and we still see the impacts today.”
Tech Community: Campus Recruiting Events
Nicole attended the Grace Hopper Celebration twice and participated in ADP recruiting events there. She loved meeting other women technologists, and together with ADP recruiters, helped extend some of the 90+ offers made. Nicole even worked on a team for a couple of years with one of the technologists recruited from a Grace Hopper Celebration.
Nicole is also active on ADP’s campus recruiting program and new hire program, meeting future technologists. She works with Brandon P. from the recruiting team, going through all the resumes. “We have a great campus recruiting program with our talent team. I set up booths on different campuses at their career fairs, meeting the students as they stop by looking for either internships or full-time opportunities,” she said. “I share with the students what we do at ADP and help them identify good fits with their interests.”
The students ask frequent questions like: What technologies is ADP working on? What are the required technical skills? When students at career fairs ask, “I’ve only worked on Java for a year, should I apply?” she encourages future technologists not to let fear get in their way and to apply. “We expect that coming from school. However, we are more interested in candidates’ passion for technology and their ability to learn,” she said.
Advice for Future Technologists
As for advice, Nicole said, “Find something you are passionate about and work hard. Be curious and persistent in pursuing your goals.” Nicole also said, “You can learn as you go; it’s impossible to know everything in advance but have faith in yourself—have confidence in yourself to learn different tasks as you grow.”
Nicole recalls her experience teaching Intro to Programming to undergraduate students while pursuing her master’s degree. She found teaching rewarding because she loved sharing knowledge with others. “Occasionally, students would come in and tell me they changed their majors to Computer Science after taking my class,” Nicole said, “Which was amazing.”
Other advice? She encourages future technologists to keep learning, stay open-minded, and look for mentoring opportunities. “I’ve been fortunate to participate in an emerging leader program and connecting with people who helped me along the way,” Nicole said. “I looked at my career differently through mentorship and appreciate my mentors who’ve guided me along the way.”
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