Tech & Innovation Blog

Podcast: Fireside chat with Martha Bird, Business Anthropologist, on her career, insights on our current state, and emerging realities as a result of the pandemic


Fireside Chat, Career Journey, Impacts of COVID-19

Martha chats with Tory, from Generations, our Business Resource Group which focuses on creating connections between emerging and established professionals. She shares her career journey, insight on our current state, adjusting to unfamiliar routines, and emerging realities as a result of COVID

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SPEAKER] Martha is Chief Business Anthropologist at ADP, where she helps design and create meaningful services, experiences, and products. Her approach both questions and contextualizes the social and cultural dynamics of technology. Martha understands technology as a cultural phenomenon and sees it as deeply embedded in the broader context of geography, social norms, language, physical space, and infrastructural capabilities. Martha shares insights about the people and the places where they make meaning with technology. Her expertise contributes to ADP’s ability to keep people at the center of innovation and design a better world at work.

[TORI DICKEY] Thank you, Martha Bird, for joining our Generation’s BRG podcast. We’re real excited to have you here today. My name is Tori Dickey. I am the Generation’s membership director on the National Board. And we look forward to having a terrific conversation today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career transition from academia to corporate ADP.

[MARTHA BIRD] Hi, Tori. Thanks so much for inviting me. I’ve been looking forward to this. Yeah, I’ve had a very interesting, I would say, a multiple set of careers. So I actually grew up in central New Hampshire, where for about 15 years, I ran a seventh-generation family farm. So I’m very aware of generations working together– both the benefits and the challenges. So I think that’s an interesting intersection with our interests.

But part of working as a farmer meant that I had winters kind of to myself. And it seemed to me that I should be doing something perhaps a little bit more productive given that there was nothing to do in the fields. And I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship to Boston University where I was working then on my PhD in anthropology, not what the intention actually of teaching, although I think the track that was set up for me was probably more in that direction. But I was just really interested, as I still am today, in really understanding how people make meaning with the tools that they have, with the people that are around them, with the cultural spaces in which they exist. So that was sort of the start there.

And then once I received my PhD, I understood that there were other anthropologists like myself who had opted not to go into academics, and instead decided to pursue careers in industry. And at that time, which is about 20 years ago, the industry that was most attractive to us as a group was in technology. So long and short is I ended up moving to San Francisco. I worked in Silicon Valley for a number of years. And then I’ve moved my center of operation to London, where I worked for a good many years, basically there working in emerging markets, spending a lot of time in Russia, actually.

And then as way leads on the way in my life, I ended up moving back to the US and talking to Roberto Masiero who is my current manager. And he brought me in basically with the remit to bring some human wisdom to the digital tools that we built.

[TORI DICKEY] Very nice. Well, we are certainly lucky to have you. We’ve seen you out in a few different ADP corporate settings and definitely know that you bring quite a bit of value to our products and the direction which our technology will be going in the future.
[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I feel very privileged for the platform and the opportunity to actually kind of find some of these intersections between the human and the technical. And I think it’s– I feel very blessed to be able to do that.

[TORI DICKEY] Certainly. Let’s chat about COVID-19 and the impact across our different generations. What have you observed or recognized from our different generations?

[MARTHA BIRD] Well, on the outside, and not specifically about ADP, I’ve personally been really impressed by the shared social responsibility that I’ve observed across a number of generations. So on any given trip to the store, I see young and old and all those in between wearing some kind of mask I’ve also been deeply touched by the perseverance and grit of those elders who seem to be just getting on with it despite their physical challenges.

I wonder though how they’re keeping at home. Are they alone? Did they get enough human connection, which makes me think of a dear friend and mentor of mine who was 98? And he got to a point where he said he thought it made sense for him to hire a helper to come in to visit him a few times a week just to give him a good back scratch.

So human connection is critical. And those less fortunate enough to have access to technologies that enable us to connect, even if somewhat flat compared to the real thing, I think are very fortunate. And of course, some people, especially older folks, are taking to video conferencing out of necessity. So they are learning new ways of connecting while others, I’m afraid, are having a probably a deepening experience of isolation.

Of course, as people have been sheltering at home, there is the necessity for parents and children and perhaps grandparents to shelter together. And for those I’ve spoken to, it’s kind of a mixed bag of emotion. On the one hand, it’s a gift to spend time with family when you might otherwise be on the road commuting to work. You get to sit down with meals. You get to do family projects and just generally share time together.

However, there is also that feeling of, wow, this is a lot of additional effort to manage kids and work responsibilities and what other things may come up. And somewhere in the mix of emotion has been planted the seeds of work-life change where people have been forced to be a bit more transparent about their domestic life and responsibilities inherent in that life. So many of us have kept our professional personas really separate from our personal personas.

But for those of us fortunate enough to work from home, we’ve had to embrace a new kind of blending of the two. And I think the implications of this for the future of work are still really playing out. But I suspect we will see more opportunities for flexible work arrangements to emerge, like, where and how and when work gets done. And I’d love to see the idea of quality over quantity becoming really the true measure of professional success, as opposed to how many meetings one attends and how many hours one works.

[TORI DICKEY] Yes. And that’s a great point. I’m right there with you with regards to how we view productivity or how we view success as a shift. So what do you think about the new normal we keep hearing about? I mean, we’re all facing the unfamiliar routines, keeping more personal distance. What are your thoughts as it pertains to ADP and our culture?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yes. It’s interesting, Tori. I have been giving a lot of thought to this term, new normal. And personally, I feel like the term, emerging realities, is better because I believe it captures the multiple ways people are learning to adapt and evolve. It’s a dynamic term that implies change in movement, whereas I think a new normal feels, to me, a bit static, which is really the way culture works.

For, example, what might be new to one person is the same old thing for another. And similarly, what I might find normal might well seem out of the ordinary for another person. So it’s not really about a one size fits all. If we have learned anything I think over the past several months, it is that people experience life differently depending on many and varied factors like age, ethnicity, income, education, and access. So for me, I like emerging realities.

[TORI DICKEY] Very good. So is the handshake a thing of the past days and now considered taboo?

[MARTHA BIRD] I’m not sure I’d call it a taboo, but then again I’m an anthropologist. So my mind goes to the original meaning of the word which was related to like sort of supernatural forces that had the potential of doing evil. So to avoid taboos, we’re set up to get away from these dangers. So supernatural malevolent forces aside, if nothing else, those who follow I think the CDC and the WHO guidelines won’t be shaking hands anytime too soon.

Of course, two, many cultures don’t shake hands when greeting others. So for instance in Thailand, people put their hands at chest level and bow. And so in other places for religious reasons, some people don’t shake hands. Particularly, men don’t shake hands with women.
And then there’s also the thing about order, the order of shaking. And the pressure of the handshake can vary depending on the age of those gathering with deference to elders. But I think it seems safe to say, however, that for the near-term, handshakes will be avoided by many people. Whether these will become a thing of the past seems unlikely, given the hope that we’ll soon see a vaccine for COVID-19, and also the fact that the process of cultural behavior changes in very lengthy process.

[TORI DICKEY] So do you have any messaging or words of wisdom on how we can support our different generations in ADP through this change?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I think the main one that comes to my mind is to be kind to yourself. That’s first and foremost. And then understand that most people are experiencing a sense of anchorlessness and uncertainty. So it’s OK to feel vulnerable, and it’s even better to be honest about it.

And listen with intention and respect your teammates. So I think listening is a sign of attention-paying. It’s a form of reciprocity, an affirmation between a listener in a speaker and vice versa. I think it signals a partnership, a collaboration rather than a one-way conversation. So active listening, I think, builds more trusting relationships.

Think back on a time when you felt like you were truly heard. And then think back on a time when you felt ignored. How did you feel about that person? So is that person someone you’d respect as a leader?

There are few feelings more apt to generate withdrawal and apathy than the feeling that your opinions don’t matter. It really doesn’t mean that everyone needs to agree with your opinions, but it does mean that feeling dismissed will never engender respect.

[TORI DICKEY] Great message. And I appreciate your words of wisdom here for us today with the Generations BRG.

[MARTHA BIRD] Mm-hmm. Thank you.

[TORI DICKEY] Yeah. How about the shift to a remote work environment? Are there different ways that you see our leaders might approach performance, coaching, or mentoring, and the employee engagement we have here at ADP?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. There’s a couple of practices that come immediately to my mind. So interestingly today, my team is welcoming a new intern. And then the team leader has organized a Webex welcome to the team call so that we have a chance to say, we’re glad you’re here. Now, that’s an entirely new experience, and I’ll be happy to report back how that goes.

But it’s a step in the right direction. Yes, is it as good as having a get-together around our shared table where we have lunch? Maybe not. But is it a signal that we really care that this person is actually showed up? I think it is. So that’s I think that’ll be interesting to see.

And on the lines of human touch, I think leaders should adopt an attitude of open and honest communication to encourage more human-centered, I think, working relationships. This goes to what I was just saying really about attentive listening. And I think it starts by carefully curating inclusive remote meetings where everyone has a voice. So set aside time at the beginning of meetings to share fears and concerns and invite open discussion.

Set aside time for regular and predictable one-on-ones, perhaps inviting the associate to walk and talk during the conversation. I actually find that really a nice practice because so often we’re just crouched over our laptops, and it just doesn’t feel particularly humane. And I always really feel like there’s a lot more flow of conversation when I’m able to sort of just have a natural walking about. So I think that’s one thing.

And then ask the teammate how they prefer to be mentored. And something that I know has been successful in other companies– and I’ve seen it with friends that I know– is to pair teammates across generations. So creating mentorship opportunities in both directions– I just think it’s hugely valuable.

And then I share this with your listenership because I think this was something that I found really exceptionally engaging– was, I had asked teammates to share a photo of themselves as very young children, and then to write a single sentence. What would you say to them now?

Not only did this open up an opportunity for shared fun; it also gave the team an opportunity to learn more about childhood in different cultures, and underscored the reality that, regardless of current age, we were all kids once. So it proved to be a really successful exercise in terms of team sharing, cross-cultural learning, and multi-generational understanding. And I really recommend it to your listeners.

[TORI DICKEY] I like that. I think we’ll go ahead and launch that. Maybe our virtual chapter can help facilitate some fun around doing just that I certainly have had a similar experience in bringing about 10 pictures to a workplace environment and found that it really helps us to shift into that human dimension, find a common bond, and identify areas of discussion to build on that relationship and/or mentorship. So great suggestion, Martha. I appreciate that.

[MARTHA BIRD] My pleasure.

[TORI DICKEY] So one last question for you as we wrap this up. How do you view history and tradition in ADP? For example, our locations will have potlucks or other activities such as chili cook-offs. Do you think that we’ll see these again anytime soon in our in our workplace?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of in-person gatherings. Humans are dependent on connection, and we form communities around these interpersonal opportunities. So ADP has a strong history of putting people first and, I think, with a very solid focus on family, whether it’s for the associates or for clients. And as a company, ADP has a consistent track record, I think, of supporting the communities in which we live and prosper.

This makes sense really is to give back to those who allow us to prosper. So how we give back may change, but the act of doing so is ingrained in the values of the company, and I don’t see that changing. I see changing eventually a return to more of these sort of in in-person get-togethers.

[TORI DICKEY] Good. Well, we certainly look forward to that time coming sooner than later.

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. And in the meantime, share photos of yourself as young children.

[TORI DICKEY] Yeah. There you go. [LAUGHS] It’s a great second-best while we bridge the gap. All right, well, thank you so much, Martha, for your time today and participating with the Generations BRG, the GenCast. We do hope that you’ll be able to join in future events or activities that Generations hosts as well.

[MARTHA BIRD] Well, I’d really look forward to that, Tori. And thank you so much for inviting me. It was my great pleasure.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People.

[TEXT] ADP and the ADP logo are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2020 ADP, Inc.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Podcast: Fireside chat with Don Weinstein, CVP, Global Product & Development on his career and the latest tech happenings at ADP


Career Path, Fireside Chat, Latest Tech

ADP Technologist, Nik Palmer, hosts an engaging chat with our Global Product & Techology leader, Don Weinstein, and the executive sponsor for our Generations Business Resource Group. Don chats about his career path and gives some advice. He also shares the latest tech happenings at ADP, machine learning, and our evolving products. The Generations BRG focuses on creating connections between emerging and established professionals.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People

[NICK PALMER] Howdy and welcome to the GENcast podcast. My name is Nick Palmer and I will be your host for this episode with Don Weinstein, Chief Product and Technology Officer here. Don is also the Executive Sponsor of Generations.

His role is somewhat unique as most companies separate product and technology. And what’s also interesting is that Don has a background in aerospace engineering and consulting prior to coming to ADP to work in corporate strategy and technology. Don, welcome, and thanks for sitting down with us.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thanks, Nick. It’s great to be here.

[NICK PALMER] So to get started, let’s find out a little bit about you and tell us a little bit about what generation you identify with most closely and what are your standout roles.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Great question. I’m Generation X through and through. I do like from time to time looking at those different examples about the– or the differences in the different generations. And the one that always stuck out to me with Generation X being kind of a sandwich generation.

Stuck in between the boomers and the millennials is just kind of being the pragmatists in the room and figuring out how we help move things forward and make progress and maybe less about it was stuck between the me generation and the we generation before and after us.

[NICK PALMER] Building bridges versus building walls.

[DON WEINSTEIN] I like that. I hadn’t heard that, but I’ll quote you on that going forward. It’s really about just again, not trying that overly call attention to ourselves as a generation as much as just moving things forward. I was going to say, my top two stand out roles are advisor provider, which I was told was a somewhat unusual combination, but that’s all I know.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met one of those yet. So that’s interesting. So tell us a little bit about some technology happenings here at ADP. If our listeners haven’t had a chance to listen to your recent HRExaminer executive podcast with John Sumser, we’ll make sure that we put a link up there and encourage them to take a listen.

In that podcast, you cover some excellent material there about how ADP is addressing diversity and inclusion via our products and our client services, most of which is just given away for free. Can you share a little bit about the GTP diversity and inclusion strategy and its intended impact for both clients and associates?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be glad to. And I think the first thing to peel back on is this isn’t some new idea that just came to us because of obviously what’s been happening, the increased focus we’ve seen based in large part on the recent tragic incidents with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which I think have created a renewed focus on the problems and the challenges that diversity has and that we have with diversity as a country and in particular in the workplace.

So I am glad for that renewed focus. But this is something we’ve been thinking about for and working on for a while. I’d point you back to, it was 2016 when we launched our Pay Equity Explorer and actually was recognized as an awesome new technology for 2016 by HR Executive Magazine the HR Tech Conference.

And in particular, what made the Pay Equity Explorer great or an awesome new technology is it took this long founded challenge that we know about, disparities and discrimination and pay practices in the workplace, and took a new angle to it where we could leverage ADP’s vast treasure trove of data so we could understand industry benchmarks, both outside an organization, as well as inside an organization, and in addition to which we can apply machine learning algorithms to help identify not just– you see the classic studies that say, OK, in this context, women get paid 82 cents on the dollar.

It’s a constantly moving benchmark so I don’t remember what the latest is. But that was a relatively recent one. And it’s important. And it’s important to know. But it’s not actionable. OK. So what do I do about it? More importantly, where do I get started?

And so the Pay Equity Explorer was able to break that down using machine learning to crawl through a client’s data and identify very specific, this individual in this job relative to this internal and external market benchmark is being underpaid by this exact amount and here’s how you can take care of that.

And I think that was a real breakthrough in terms of attacking that problem. And we looked at that across all dimensions. We looked at it by gender, we looked at it by race, we looked at it by ethnicity, because trying to get multi-dimensional on the problem.

And that was really just the first such example. We followed that up with a couple of more products, one of which we focused on including a little about diversity and inclusion and inclusiveness. We’ve been very focused on accessibility in our products.

And I’m talking about making content more accessible in particular for folks who may be visually impaired or other types of impairments that would prevent them from being able to access their normal workplace tools.

So our core application, My ADP, that’s used by employees and managers, as well as our ADP mobile application, we’ve been embedded enhanced usability and accessibility controls. We’ve been doing that for years. I’m actually trying to remember when we started. It’s been so long that we’ve been at that I couldn’t I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head, but it’s been a while.

[NICK PALMER] I know I’ve supported AudioEye for a while now.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly. AudioEye as a partner, we’ve worked with on both to consult with us on how to design our products to make them more accessible, and then they have plug-ins that handle all different types of impairments and get us beyond level two on the web content accessibility guidelines.

And those are just a couple of examples. I could drone on forever. You probably don’t want me to. We’re continuing to push the ball forward. We had a couple of things in the works. We’re working on some new diversity inclusiveness dashboards with our data cloud team to give clients better analytics about what they’re doing, multiple different metrics around– you’ll get the entire talent lifecycle.

Are we recruiting diverse talent pools? How are we rewarding? How are we retaining? How are we promoting? And taking all of that through a D and I lens. We’ve kind of already started working on that next iteration when obviously the external environment kicked it up a notch in terms of our priority level.

And you had asked the question not only from an external angle but also from an internal angle. So I’m super excited that we’ve been able to partner with our internal ADP D and I team, in particular Aisha who is our Chief Diversity Officer, to have ADP be client number one for any and all new products that we want to push in this area.

And actually have been having great success with Sreeni Kutam about making ADP client number one for any of our enterprise HR products. And diversity inclusiveness is just the latest example that we’re putting a lot of energy into right now.

[NICK PALMER] As we move from a service company to a technology company, it’s interesting to see that dynamic come into play and adoption of that agile startup mentality of using what we build internally. That’s awesome. So, tell us a little bit about your path towards executive leadership and how that shaped your approach towards management of people and product.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’ve had somewhat of a circuitous path. You pointed out in the intro that I was an aerospace engineer by training. I started my career at General Electric. And I was working in the satellite telecommunications side of the house.

So I worked on such projects as the Dish Network and GPS. So if you’re using Waze on your way home at some point or the next time you’re in the car, you’re welcome. And truthfully, a lot of people worked on that project. You can imagine I was just one of many really brilliant and talented folks who did that.

But it was fun. It was an exciting place to start a career. But how I got from there to the payroll and HCM industry, it was not a linear trajectory whatsoever. I was bought, sold, merged, acquired six different times in my first several years. GE at some point decided to get out of that business.

They sold it to Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta merged with the Lockheed Company, became Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin shut down the facility I was working at. There were 5,000 people there when I started. And I was the 10th to last to walk out the door and shut the place down.

And now it’s just an industrial brownfield site that’s been sitting there unoccupied for 20 plus years, which is kind of sad. What I learned in some of that– first thing, so, coming out of that, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

So what do you do when you’re a 20-something engineer and you don’t know what to do with the rest of your life? I went back to school and got an MBA. And then when I finished up my MBA, I still don’t know what I wanted to do with myself?

So what do you do when you’re an overeducated 20-something who doesn’t know what to do? You go into consulting and tell other people what to do. I don’t know what to do with my life, but let me tell you what to do with yours.

Consulting was a good experience for me in that up until that point, I had only known one industry, one business, and one functional area. So it really helped me broaden myself out. And I think if there’s one or two takeaways I could take away from that experience, it’s I had the opportunity to work in a lot of different industries on a lot of different problems, and having that cross-functional type of experience I think was useful.

Even starting my career at GE, they really encourage some rotational type assignments. I have noticed within ADP, we probably don’t do that as much as other organizations. Also I made a stop at IBM for several years. And we used to joke at IBM, it stood for I’ve Been Moved.

But at ADP, I think we have folks who tend to spend more time in one area. And it’s great for developing deep expertise in that area. And some of the stuff that we do, you have to be pretty deep and expert to do it.

But I think also we can benefit and folks can benefit from taking that kind of side step rotational assignment to learn about the business through another lens and then come back. It’s something I’ve been encouraging within my technology organization now. Really, two things.

One is getting more rotations within technology, including on my leadership team. So the simple way we think about it is I’ve got the applications side of the house, as you said, the product side. And then the traditional infrastructure, the technology side.

So we’ve been rotating people within products, moving from one product, maybe moving from a shared product like our identity management or reporting solution into a market facing product like RUN or Workforce Now or something like that.

Gives people a different perspective. Moving between the application side and the infrastructure side of the house. So we’ve done a handful of rotations there. And I think we’ll do some more. And also encouraging bi-directional folks from the technology organization to roll out into business type roles and vise versa.

Folks who are in the different sides of the business who have interests or an aptitude for technology to come do a tour of duty in the technology world and then go back to their functional areas with a greater appreciation for what we’re doing here.

It’s something, like I said, I was able to benefit and take advantage of early on in my career. And I think that’s something that I’m trying to encourage others at least within my scope of influence in GPT to take advantage of as well. Does that make sense?

[NICK PALMER] Yes, it does. That’s great. I think that I’m going to quote you on the merged, bought, sold, and acquired. Yeah. One of the things that you said in there that was particularly interesting was about that tour of duty in rotation.

And that’s something that I’d like to make sure that we’ve heard is covered again and mentioned again because that’s something that we’ve heard from our membership, saying how should I approach the career path and moving forward?

Should I jump around and try lots of different things? Or should I stick and go deep expertise? And I’ve obviously stuck and done the deep expertise side of things. But I tell people all the time, jumping around and gaining a broad perspective, that’s also equally valid.

They are opposite sides of the same coin. And as long as you’re holding that coin and paying attention to it, either one can afford you great insight and knowledge and career path opportunity. So thanks for sharing the opposite side of the coin from what I typically do.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, and if I could just put a nuance on that, I like to think about it as a major and a minor. Because I wouldn’t want to create the false expectation. I think too much jumping around, also a bad thing, right? I think you need to stay long enough in an area to develop a certain level of depth and expertise.

And that’s it. That’s your major. And then when you have that depth of expertise in a certain area, then when you go out into another area, you may be a novice in that new found area, but you can be valuable to the folks there because you bring the expertise about something else that they don’t know about.

So for instance, do a typical one again in my area, is if I’ve got somebody who’s super knowledgeable about infrastructure and then they go do a rotational assignment on the app side of the house, they may not know everything there is to know about app development, but they can bring to that team their richness and depth of experience on infrastructure that is going to be beneficial to the team.

And then potentially, like I said, not then move on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. But do that as sort of like a side step and then come back to infrastructure and be a better infrastructure engineer because you understand more now how the application that your infrastructure is supporting.

So a little different than saying jump around as much as you do a sidestep, come back. Maybe apply what you learned. Maybe do another one, come back. So I think it’s useful for somebody to have a major. I’ll tell you, my life experience, as I said, I started out as an engineer. Spent several years in engineering.

Coming out of engineering, I went into consulting and I got to apply that in a bunch of different areas. Then I did some work in strategy. Came back to product. Then I came to ADP. Well, did a long tenure in project management.

Went out to strategy. So I was a Chief Strategy Officer for a couple of years. Came back to GPT. So not floating all over the place, but sidestep, come back, sidestep, come back, learn a new skill, come back and apply it kind of model, if that makes sense.

[NICK PALMER] Right, and I think how I would encapsulate that nuance that you’re talking about is you have to do the tour of duty. You have to learn something, not be a tourist and jump around. So there is a difference in terms of your depth and understanding that you gain in a tour of duty versus just being a tourist to a new location.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Very well said, yes.

[NICK PALMER] So let’s get into the big elephant in the room. One of the biggest hurdles we had in late FY 20 was the rapid change to remote work modality. The business continuity team recently discussed this undertaking in their internal webinar.

And you talk about the international effort in depth on the HRExaminer podcast. The company saw some wonderful productivity engagement through the process. And as associates continue to work remotely and some areas slowly begin the process of returning to the office, what kinds of productivity and technology challenges do you see arising?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, it’s a good question. And something we’re thinking a lot about these days, of course. The first thing I observed is as we moved everybody remote, there was this certainly surge of connectivity going on that causes a lot of technical challenges. And now we’re keen thinking already ahead to like, what the year end is going to look like and is that going to be another surge.

But the productivity question is I think the one that’s even more interesting because you see different views out there and different scenarios about, well, are we more productive in a remote setting or are we less productive? That’s a question that comes up from time to time. And I’ll share just a couple of dynamics.

And these are anecdotes that I’m observing. I don’t claim to have the full settled science on is work from home more or less productive yet. But the one thing I noticed is in the past where we had most folks working in an office and then a minority working from home, I thought it was hard to be in that subset minority of folks who weren’t in the office, versus when everybody is remote, it seems like, if you’re having a meeting and there’s 12 people in the meeting and nine of them are in the room and then three are on the phone or the video, you’d see that the folks who were on the phone or the video, every once in a while somebody was like, oh, stop, wait.

Folks on the phone, do you have anything to add? Because it almost becomes an afterthought. Whereas when everybody’s remote, I actually think it makes that aspect of it work a little bit better. But now that we’re talking about reopening, and by the way, just for full disclosure, I’m in sitting in Roseland right now because part of the very first wave of US pilots, Roseland was the first office and I was in the first cohort of folks who raised my hand and said, sure, I’ll come back into the office.

So I’m in Roseland right now. But some of our offices around outside the US have already started to open up. Shanghai was the first and a handful in Europe as well. But I think it’s a challenge when you’re in this partial hybrid state, right? So if everybody’s remote, I think the collaboration works better.

And in particular getting more voices heard. But when some folks are remote and some folks are in the office and you have this partial stasus going, I’m not sure that that works as well. And that’s something that we have to be very mindful of as we hopefully at some point start to transition back.

And the second thing I’d point out is where we have mature teams of people, I’ve got a mature team of folks, they’ve been working together for a while, they know each other, they’ve been working on their products for a while, they know the products. I think those teams going remote were capable of doing so.

And it was almost a seamless transition. Now we’re at the point, it’s July, and this is the time of year when we have our new college grads start showing up. So I’ve got close to 100, I’ve got 150 total who will be showing up here over the next several months. And so the ability to onboard and assimilate those new hires into the company– so first they have to learn about the company, about the products, about the other team members.

For most of them, it’s going to be their first real work experience. And the ability to manage through that in a remote setting I think is a little bit trickier. And it’s one that I don’t know that we’ve cracked the code on, but we’re mindful of now that we’re going through a virtual onboard process.

So I think those are some real challenges that we need to be really taking seriously here the longer that this stretches out. I don’t know what that would be like to onboard as a brand new, fresh out of college graduate, my first real job, my first company, and I’m remote for six months. Nobody knows. I mean, I saw Google came out and announced they’re going to be remote at least till next summer. Not saying that they’re right, but it just shows you where things are moving.

[NICK PALMER] Yeah, the vision is definitely down the road as opposed to next week or next month.

[DON WEINSTEIN] That’s right. Definitely doesn’t feel like it’s around the corner.

[NICK PALMER] And I think the key thing, though, that you bring up is that we’re mindful of it. We’re aware that this is a potential issue. And unless we are aware of it, we can’t really do anything about it. So it’s good to hear that we’re paying attention and monitoring, even if we don’t have all the answers right now. We’re closely watching and observing to see what those answers might become and reveal.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly.

[NICK PALMER] So in terms of that, how do you see the business resource groups and Generations playing a role in this remote and hybrid environment?

[DON WEINSTEIN] It’s a great question. It’s an important one. And I’ll go back to the beginning of my career and tie that into why I always felt so passionate about Generations and the work you all are doing here. And that is that I felt like I did have a good onboarding experience when I first started my career back at GE.

Again, I came in as a brand new, fresh faced engineer right out of college and got to work on some pretty complex stuff. But I was lucky to really have– and this gets the spirit of Generations. We brought people in together as a class. So we had a cohort of people I came with, that I bonded with, and some of whom are still my closest friends to this day. So I had a lot of peer interaction and learning through it together.

And then we had senior level mentoring. And I remember a couple of mentors in particular who really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes a little bit and helped me really accelerate my career by being able to learn from the wisdom of some of the folks who had been there together and enjoy the camaraderie aspect of being part of a group of people and not feeling like I was at it alone.

It’s one of the things we’ve tried to bring to, as I mentioned, and we called our GPT Development Program when we onboard the new college graduates. We bring them in as a class and try and create that spirit. And we assign them mentors from within the broader organization. And as I look at where we are as an organization right now in terms of moving folks out of the office remote, I think it’s been about 20 or so weeks here in the US since we went to remote work.

And again, I know there was this initial surge of productivity because people were certainly, we had a lot of work to do as we were responding to various aspects of the COVID crisis from a regulatory or compliance aspect. And there was just the change element there, I’d say, almost like a mini little euphoria.

I’m speaking for myself now. I’ve been coming into an office for 30 years and I never really had an opportunity to work from home for any kind of extended period. So it was just different. You get a little bit of an, I’ll call it an adrenaline rush.

But I’ve seen and I’ve also read some interesting articles by others about how that phenomenon played out in a number of different organizations. But after that initial adrenaline rush, now we’re settling in for the long haul. And how do we keep folks engaged?

How do we avoid burnout in a world where if you’re like me, the whole work life balance, whatever it was went away because I wake up and get my first cup of coffee and, boom, I’m right at it. And then I just keep going all day, all night. That’s not a recommendation or a lifestyle tip, but it makes it harder.

And so there is some notion that the longer this drags on, the current scenario, you’re worried about either, you’re worried about burnout, you’re worried about fatigue factors, you’re worried about people losing engagement, losing connectivity to their team or to their organization.

And so I think the work that business resource groups do is probably more critical now in this type of environment than ever before in terms of creating a sense of affinity and shared purpose with people who have common interests and common objectives that span organization or function or job, but rather say, we have connectivity at a purpose level here.

And so I’m thankful that our ADP, that our HR organization had the foresight to start us down this path several years ago. And we’ve got this kind of infrastructure in place now today. Because I believe it’s critical to helping folks navigate the current crisis from a personal work life relationship aspect.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time here today. And I wanted to thank you personally for your guidance and suggestions for the Generations Group. I know that we are looking forward to an amazing FY 21.

One of the things when we connect and we talk about is books and self-improvement that we’re undertaking currently. So would you like to leave the Generations members any suggestions on what you’ve been reading or studying lately?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’ll just share with you what I’ve been reading. I don’t know how helpful it is. But I’ve become quite a big fan of this– is an academic, a historian at Oxford, Yuval Noah Harari.

He’s written a few books. Sapiens was a history of humankind. Homo Deus was a kind of a forward looking one. And the current book that he’s got out there is called 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. And it couldn’t, in my opinion, couldn’t be more timely.

It was sort of a little dark, if I would offer, and maybe it’s in keeping with the times. It’s funny, he published it before the pandemic or some of the unrest that we’re seeing happen. But seems to have a little bit of– seemed a little prescient in that.

But I can skip you through some of it because there are like 20 chapters like, yep, that’s where we’re at. That’s not working, that’s not working, that’s not working. And I get to the end, I’m like what’s the answer? So what do we do? And his only answer is meditate.

[NICK PALMER] I’m a big fan of those books. I would recommend them to all of our Generations members. I know we’ve shared a couple of those in previous quarterly book roundups. So thanks for the plug on those.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Absolutely. This is the generation that’s going to carry us forward. So meditating and being a little contemplate, not the worst idea right now.

[NICK PALMER] Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time today. And we will look forward to having you back sometime in the future.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thank you. My pleasure.

[MUSIC PLAYING] [LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People.

[TEXT] ADP and the ADP logo are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2020 ADP, Inc.

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Urvashi

Women in STEM Profile: ADP’s CTO, Urvashi Tyagi

At Urvashi Tyagi’s first job after college, there were no other women in the company. None. ADP’s Chief Technology Officer knows first-hand how challenging the path can be for a woman in STEM.

Urvashi Tyagi grew up in India. She and her three sisters are all engineers; her oldest sister paved the way. When her sister told the family she wanted to become an engineer, Urvashi’s parents, aunts and uncles were worried no one would want to marry a woman engineer. And besides, it wasn’t even a good career choice with barely any job opportunities for female engineers. After an extended family meeting resulted in an unfavorable outcome, her parents had a change of heart and let Urvashi’s oldest sister join the engineering program. When it was Urvashi’s turn, no one questioned the decision. (And she and her sisters are all happily married and enjoying their professions.)

The Only Woman

While both technology and culture had changed a lot, there were still many challenges for women engineers. When Urvashi was a college undergrad, she was one of only four women in a class of 90 engineering students.

As she was graduating, most companies were not interested in recruiting women. So, she didn’t get a job from campus interviews. But Urvashi noticed an ad in the newspaper at a company that developed machine tools and wanted to hire college grads with design and computer numerical control programming experience. She was invited to interview and was delighted to get the job.

Show up, keep learning, and often it works out better than you could have imagined.

– Urvashi Tyagi, Chief Technology Officer at ADP

When she showed up on her first day, there were no other women in the company. There had never been a women’s bathroom. “Someone printed out a sign that said, ‘Women Only’ and taped it to one of the bathrooms for me,” She says. Grateful, Urvashi overlooked the fact her bathroom was in a different building than where she worked. “I had to figure out how to co-exist on the shop floor and focus on the work. Most of the time it was good. I learned a lot about solving complex engineering problems.”Urvashi-profile-pic

Urvashi Tyagi

Later, she found out the hiring manager never had the permission to hire her. He sent the offer letter because she was one of the top two candidates selected based on test scores and interviews. His boss was not entirely pleased. “I got the job because of one individual who did not see things in a stereotypical way and was focused on finding the right person for the role.”

While working full time, Urvashi went back to school to earn her MBA. From there, she decided to teach operations management and information systems. As an academic associate for a couple years at the premier Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, she had the opportunity to work and connect with top professors all over the world. But she realized she enjoyed solving problems more than being in a classroom. One of her colleagues encouraged her to apply to a master’s of science program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, MA. Urvashi wasn’t sure she wanted more school or how she was going to pay for it, but she looked up the program. The customizable curriculum and the focus on applied learning swayed her. She learned that the deadline to apply had already passed, but after speaking with a professor at the school, she submitted her application and was admitted.

Her family didn’t want her so far away. Once again, her older sister supported her and encouraged her family to let her go. Urvashi’s sister was also moving to the United States with her husband and promised to keep an eye on Urvashi. Her parents scraped together the money to purchase their first-ever airplane ticket and a couple months of living expenses. She arrived in Massachusetts with two bags, one full of snacks.

Learning and Solving Problems

Since graduating from WPI in 2001, Urvashi has worked for many of the big names in technology, including IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. She’s led global engineering teams doing product strategy, architecture, and development. When you download an audiobook or send an Outlook email, know that Urvashi was involved with the engineering and teams that made that possible.

Urvashi-With-family

Lockdown birthday celebration at home (left to right): daughter Riya, husband Shishir, Urvashi and son Tanish.

Today, she is ADP’s Chief Technology Officer, taking on that role in 2019. “I had no idea that I would be a CTO three years ago,” she says. “I didn’t plan it. I try to live in the moment and put all my energy into what I am doing and the problems I am working to solve. That drives the next things that happen.”

Urvashi’s approach is to make sure she is always learning and delivering in her role. “While the foundations of engineering and technology may not change that often, the applications are evolving constantly,” she says. “The only way to keep up is to be a lifelong student.”

It’s also essential to understand your own value to the organization. “Always know how the work you do will impact the company’s bottom line and how your work is adding value and taking the company forward.”

This can be challenging for women of color who often experience more scrutiny of their work, more criticism, and less credit for their accomplishments. “The one area where I have experienced unconscious bias is with criticism,” Urvashi says. “I have to listen carefully and know when the feedback is genuine and when it is more about the person giving the feedback. When I understand that, I can embrace the situation and not take it personally.”

Urvashi’s best advice is to live in the moment. “Things don’t have to be planned or the way you think they should be. Show up, keep learning, and often it works out better than you could have imagined.”

Ready for more?

Explore the stories of these and other ADP Women in STEM, and learn about careers at ADP.

Related Video: How ADP Walks the D&I Talk

One way ADP encourages diversity and inclusion (D&I) among its associates is through business resource groups (BRGs). ADP’s iWIN BRG is the company’s largest with 5000+ members (male and female) from 19 countries across the business. Learn how iWIN engages, equips and empowers its members to achieve personal and professional success through networking, professional development, and other educational opportunities.

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Jeff standing at the back of a boat with arms spread wide

I’m a start-up founder and angel investor, and here’s why you should consider a tech career at ADP

Tech & Innovation Blog

I’m a start-up founder and angel investor, and here’s why you should consider a tech career at ADP


Voice of Our People, Why ADP, Workmarket

We recently caught up with Jeff Wald, angel investor, and President and Co-Founder of ADP’s WorkMarket.

Jeff standing at the back of a boat with arms spread wide

We asked him why someone should consider a career in technology with ADP. Here’s what he said:

“What may have started life as a payroll company has transformed into one of the leading tech companies of the 21st century.”

When ADP acquired WorkMarket in 2018, a lot of our engineering and product associates were curious about how a ‘payroll company’ such as ADP aligned with WorkMarket, a cutting-edge start-up. It’s a fair (and expected) question, and one we continue to answer with ease as we seek the best and brightest in tech talent to join the ever-growing ADP team.

As part of the onboarding into ADP, WorkMarket associates quickly discovered the scale of ADP’s tech workforce and the market-leading technology the organization builds continuously. The WorkMarket team realized that ADP was the bridge between the cutting-edge nature of a tech start-up and the opportunity to have that technology utilized by hundreds of thousands of companies around the world.  It’s a scale that few companies can even imagine.

What may have started life as a payroll company has transformed into one of the leading tech companies of the 21st century. With a significant emphasis on how to provide a better experience for users utilizing the latest technology, such as machine learning, AI, and conversational UIs, ADP offers its product and engineering associates the excitement and leading-edge environment of a start-up.

At ADP, tech associates get to work for a company that knows security and scale better than anybody. You get to work with a massive team of 9,000 technologists around the world. You get to work with one of the largest business mobile apps in the world. You get to be a part of a team that is moving trillions (yes, trillions) of dollars around the globe.  In fact, ADP has built the largest business app ecosystem, ADP Marketplace, where ADP is the connection point for hundreds of companies to interface with hundreds of thousands of clients.

Our collaborative environment also means your opportunity is limitless. As a technology associate joining ADP, you can widen your purview beyond your specialization, and have the chance to exchange knowledge with the thousands of other technologists at ADP.

And it’s not just about the technology.  It’s not an understatement to say that since WorkMarket joined ADP in 2018, I’ve been blown away by how truly partnership-oriented the people are here. The culture and environment at ADP are incredible! Highly mentorship-oriented, you can learn as much as you are willing to take in. There are always people ready to help you at ADP and opportunities to expand your skills and relationship base. This, combined with ADP’s cutting-edge technology and sheer size, means that if you want to work with a company that has the breadth and scope of opportunities to influence the world, ADP is that place.

Jeff WaldThere are only a handful of technology giants that are truly changing the world, and there are only so many companies on earth where the things you build touch tens of millions of people. Where you create something that substantially impacts the way we live.  You know the names of those other tech giants, but you may not have known ADP was one of them. We are just getting started! Join us on this journey.

Jeff Wald is a President and Co-Founder of ADP’s WorkMarket and the author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. He is based in New York City.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Time clocks in the age of COVID-19: How ADP developed a (mostly) touchless solution in just a few weeks


Pandemic, Innovation, Voice of Our People

In early March 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak started to expand throughout the U.S. and Canada, the team working on ADP’s new Time Kiosk system started getting the same question from many of our clients: “Is there a way to use this without touching it?”

Jonathon hiking in Stokes Forest in New Jersey

By Jonathon Gumbiner, Senior Product Manager

In early March 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak started to expand throughout the U.S. and Canada, the team working on ADP’s new Time Kiosk system started getting the same question from many of our clients: “Is there a way to use this without touching it?” At the time, we were several months into a pilot program for the tablet-based timecard management app with more than 1,000 clients.” But most of them hadn’t adopted the app’s facial recognition feature, instead opting to tap in their badge number. And even for those who did use facial recognition, Time Kiosk still required each worker to tap the screen—a suddenly dangerous proposition during a global pandemic.

For companies that had essential workers on-site, we suggested an immediate but imperfect solution: low-cost touch pencils each employee could use to navigate the app. But we knew we’d ultimately need an integrated, turnkey option—and we’d need it as soon as possible.

After a quick brainstorm, we narrowed in on the fix that seemed most promising: First, we’d reconfigure the app to perform facial recognition by default, whenever someone was in front of the camera. Then, we’d use the tablet’s built-in virtual assistant, which powered features like Siri and Google Assistant, to respond to voice commands within Time Kiosk. If we were successful, employees would be able to start a workday, take lunch and other breaks, and clock out, all without touching the screen.ADP's online time clock

Within a couple of days, our developers were able to build a rough proof-of-concept. It was clunky and far from intuitive—to clock in, for example, you had to say “tap clock in” instead of simply “clock in.” But it was enough to help our senior leaders understand our vision for a more-refined solution—one that would meet the high standards we’d set for the original Time Kiosk experience. We got their buy-in and started to build.

Voice recognition was the first challenge. For one thing, as anyone who’s used a virtual assistant knows all too well, there are phrases it just won’t recognize. Also, in order to release the touchless features as part of Time Kiosk’s formal launch in both the U.S. and Canada, which was just a few weeks away, we needed to develop voice recognition for not only English but Spanish and French, as well—languages no one on the team speaks. Thankfully, as a global company, our partners from other ADP teams came to our rescue, helping us quickly create a repository of words to which the tablets would reliably respond.

Of course, we couldn’t make every action completely touchless. Switching between an employer’s custom job or department codes, for example, would require an employee to scroll through options that voice recognition likely wouldn’t cover. But what we could do was keep people informed. With the help of our UI team, we developed a treatment to add an icon for every touchless function, so employees could see at a glance whether they’d need to touch the screen. If so, they could wash their hands or take other precautions before they acted.

Once we’d finished the first phase, though, we came to a larger challenge: quality assurance. We spent twice as much time testing the new touchless features as we’d spent building them, going through every single action a user could take to make sure we’d identified everything properly. Because voice recognition touched the entire product, we had to review it all—and quickly, requiring a true team effort from QA. What’s more, we happened to be in the middle of transitioning to a new UI, so we needed to test both the current and the incoming interfaces, making the process twice as long.

Yet perhaps the biggest challenge of all was the pandemic’s impact on how it got done. To make sure the new features worked well in all three languages, we needed service reps and tech partners to help us with testing. But most of ADP’s 58,000-person team was working from home. I couldn’t simply walk upstairs, hand someone my tablet loaded with the latest version of our work and ask them to play around with it for a while and bring it back at the end of the day. Instead, we had to find a way to get it on their tablets remotely—no easy task given the tablet’s security restrictions. Luckily, our team was able to build a package and set of instructions that I could share, allowing partners to offer live feedback via an embedded diagnostic tool. They were invaluable in helping us fine-tune, especially our translations.

In the end, thanks to the hard work of everyone on the Time Kiosk team and many of our colleagues, we were able to meet our goal, transforming the app into an intuitive, mostly touchless experience in a few short weeks. Like any quick-turn project, it wasn’t without a few bugs. But the team’s rapid response to client questions and weekly Q&A calls have helped us not only serve their needs and build stronger relationships with them. Time Kiosk has now officially launched, and our sales teams tell us the touchless technology has been a conversation driver with both clients and prospects.

JonathanEven after the COVID-19 outbreak has passed, we see great potential in what we’ve learned about voice and facial recognition, whether it’s better accessibility for employees with disabilities or voice biometrics for authenticating service calls. In the meantime, we’re proud to say that when our clients had an urgent need, we were able to quickly deliver a solution that works—and that’s helping keep thousands of their people safe.

Jonathon Gumbiner is a Senior Product Manager at ADP in New Jersey.

Tech & Innovation Blog

How ADP leveraged new technology to help users affected by COVID-19


Pandemic, CARES Act, Helping Clients

When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, became law on March 27, 2020, teams across ADP had already been hard at work for weeks preparing for the flood of new policies tied to this legislation. Here’s an example of how Cary Feuer and his team jumped to our clients aid.

peering through eyeglasses set on a laptop

By Cary Feuer, Director of Product Management, ADP Small Business Services

When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, became law on March 27, 2020, teams across ADP had already been hard at work for weeks preparing for the flood of new policies tied to this legislation. In Retirement Services, we’d started with the simplest—and highest-impact—changes, such as initiating loans and withdrawals for users affected by COVID-19. By mid-March, we had successfully worked through those immediate projects and then turned our attention to a provision we knew would be much trickier: payment suspensions for 401(k) loans.

Since long before the pandemic, the IRS had allowed 401(k) owners to borrow money from their accounts for what it deems “immediate and heavy financial need,” such as a medical expense or a looming foreclosure. Now, under the CARES Act, borrowers affected by COVID-19 could choose to pause payments on those 401(k) loans until 2021. We knew up to 175,000 ADP users might qualify, and their average monthly payment was $800—a significant amount of money for many families. And we also knew that if even 10% of that group decided to suspend their payments and had to call us to do so, it would likely put a significant strain on our team. More importantly, it would be a headache for users during an already-difficult time. We wanted to give them an easy, self-service option, instead of making them wait on hold.

Cary Feurer, masked up, reclining on a lounge chairIt was clear we needed a technical solution. But speed was critical—and because suspending payments is a multistep process (including self-certification of COVID-19-related hardship)—it wouldn’t be as simple as checking a box. On the backend, we needed to update money-movement databases and multiple payroll products, reamortize the loans, and create an audit trail, all of which we knew we could do relatively quickly. On the frontend, though, we would normally take our time on development and testing, ironing out every wrinkle to ensure the best user experience. A UI build of this scale might take several sprints to ship across mobile, web, and legacy web platforms. In this case, we didn’t have that long.

Instead, we turned to a new piece of third-party technology, which ADP had recently integrated to allow for faster deployment of simple features like pop-up guides and mini-surveys. Designed for product managers and others to use without the help of an engineer, this technology offers templatized, customizable design patterns—and it had already been vetted by ADP’s Technical, Security, and Legal teams. It was our best, and perhaps only, option to get the frontend of payment suspensions up and running on an accelerated timeline. However, because of all the backend changes each payment suspension would trigger, we’d need to learn how to work with the product in an entirely new way, pulling information out of its API and into our own infrastructure.

Our lead developer joined with our lead development team for a quick feasibility study, and within a couple of days they’d determined our plan could work. So, with added help from one of ADP’s resident experts on the 3rd party software, we all got to work building. Our colleagues in Service Ops helped us develop the content, a UX teammate gave the frontend flow their blessing, and in less than two weeks we were almost ready to ship.

But then we ran into a snag. In order for the third-party product to know which users should see a payment suspension option, it needed to refer to a list of qualified users’ anonymized IDs—and with so many people facing financial hardship and taking out new 401(k) loans, that list was changing every day. Because of the time crunch, we’d decided to upload up-to-date CSVs of user IDs to the product each morning by hand. But this seemingly simple fix was a use case that the product—a relatively new technology still in its startup phase—wasn’t built for. Each day’s upload was taking hours to complete.

Rather than delay the release, we decided to ship our new feature and keep handling the CSVs manually.  Contemporaneously, we started work on a mini-app that could automatically break up and upload the CSVs. After a few days of testing, we finally had a feature that was not only fully self-serve for our users, but fully automated for us. Thousands of people have now paused their loans without needing to call in, saving them time and potential frustration—and saving ADP the equivalent of adding two full-time employees. Over the course of the program, our uploading solution will save hundreds of additional hours.

a dog sitting at a desk with a laptop computer and a coffee mug

Meet Cary’s four-legged office mate

Even better, our team is more familiar with a brand-new technology that we can now leverage in other creative ways. The next time we’re responding to a fast-developing situation, such as a hurricane, we’ll have this 3rd party technology in our toolbox. We’re currently validating it for other use cases, where time to market is less of a concern. With just a few weeks of work, we were able to expand our team’s development toolset, better serve our users when they needed it most, and make an investment in the future of ADP.

This is just one way that our tech teams have added new tools into our tech stack. This feature is now available for all ADP Retirement Services clients that offer CARES Act provisions to their employees.

Cary Feuer is a Director, Product Management for Small Business Services at ADP and is based in New Jersey.

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Two ADP employees having a casual conversation

Does culture really eat strategy for breakfast?

https://eng.lifion.com/yes-culture-does-eat-strategy-for-breakfast-638ae19fc506

Yes, Culture DOES Eat Strategy for Breakfast

Jude Murphy
Jude Murphy

Nov 6, 2019 · 3 min read

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Women in STEM

Girls Can Do Anything

https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/2019/08/adp-women-in-stem-profile-kanyatta-walker.aspx

 

This inspirational woman in STEM lives by a four-word personal mantra: girls can do anything.

Kanyatta Walker’s unapologetically fearless outlook began when she was only three years old. A boy cast as Santa in her preschool Christmas play did not enjoy being on stage and kept missing lines. Kanyatta offered to step in, but the teachers said she couldn’t because Santa was a boy. When it turned out none of the boys knew the lines and Kanyatta did, the first female Santa debuted in the play. The crowd loved it.

In high school, Kanyatta was interested in occupational therapy and planned to major in it in college. Then she did some aptitude tests with a good friend who wanted to join the marines. The recruiter told her she was excellent at math and could pretty much do anything she wanted – except be an engineer.

Kanyatta graduated from college with a degree in software engineering technology and has never looked back.

“I always loved math,” Kanyatta said. “My aunt was a math teacher and the way she explained it just made sense to me. I love that there is always a precise answer. But there is also always more than one way to get to that answer and lots of trouble shooting.”

Management math

She was recruited by Accenture, a multinational consulting firm, where she worked in a variety of roles from sales to program manager and development manager. By 25, she was leading a team with a significant budget. “I learned by trial and error. There was so much I did not know and I made a lot of mistakes. But I also knew that teams are a mirror of their leaders. I worked at a grocery store when I was 16. When it got busy, the managers would leave their office and come help wherever needed. After the store was bought by a chain, the new managers didn’t come out of their office to help. I learned how important it is for leaders to understand what people need and show up for their team.”

As her career progressed, Kanyatta realized that there are multiple roles for leaders too. “It’s like a baseball team,” she said. “There are coaches and general managers. Coaches assemble the teams and knows who to play to bring out their best. The general manager deals with the overall strategy and choosing the right coaching staff to create the win.

“To be an effective leader, you don’t personally have to play every position. When I see something I want to do, I work to understand the underlying skills. I see how to unravel things and figure out what I know, what I need to know, and how to learn the skills I need. With core skills and ability, you can do anything.”

The desire to understand executive strategy led Kanyatta to an MBA program at Emory University while she was still working full time leading product managers, business analysts and program managers for a large telecom company. She discovered the perfect combination of math and business in her finance courses. “I can look at a company’s finances and tell you what their strategy is,” she said.

Coming to ADP

After finishing her MBA, a friend helped recruit Kanyatta to ADP in Atlanta. She was excited at the opportunity to combine her business skills with her software engineering experience. She started out as Vice President of Operations working in National Accounts on outsourcing operations. Today, Kanyatta is Vice President of Global Product and Technology – Client Product Support, where she leads teams providing product and technical support for ADP’s business units and clients.

“I love the ability to transform here. As the company is transforming, so are the opportunities for people within the company and our clients to grow. I love helping people connect the dots and see where we are going from process to technology to culture, Kanyatta said.

“I also appreciate seeing women executives at ADP and how women help each other here. I met ADP business unit presidents Debbie Dyson and Maria Black within my first six months, and they always find time and make themselves available to help others.”

Helping others succeed

Kanyatta is also committed to helping others grow and achieve their dreams. She is involved in Women in Technology International and Emory’s Executive Women of Goizueta —while also mentoring and coaching rising leaders in her role at ADP. She loves helping women figure out what they want and how to get there.

“Connecting with others can be scary, but it’s important so you can understand the playing field,” Kanyatta said. “You have to lift your head up to see and for people to see you. There’s no way for people to know how amazing you are if your head is down all the time.

“There are not many women of color in tech, so I always try to say yes when people ask me to speak. It’s important to build bridges and for younger women to see people who look like them doing the things they want to do.”

Kanyatta is quick to say that she does not do it all alone. Her husband is very supportive and encourages her to connect with others and volunteer. Together, they manage a busy family schedule with their 12 year old daughter who is playing softball on a traveling team. “I love being a softball mom and spending time with my family,” she said.

Walker family at softball field

Kanyatta, Kya and Kevin Walker enjoying time as a softball family.

Kanyatta’s advice to others

  • Be careful how you treat people because you never know who you may need or who may need you. God works through other people.
  • Be a dream giver, not a dream killer. Build authentic relationships with people. Give your perspective, but show them what it takes and how to progress instead of telling someone they can’t or shouldn’t.
  • Follow your heart and trust that it knows. Stay optimistic, be persistent and keep going. Give up the spirit of fear for the power of love.

Kanyatta Walker

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Person gesturing toward large computer screen

Performance implications of misunderstanding Node.js promises

https://eng.lifion.com/promise-allpocalypse-cfb6741298a7

Promise.allpocalypse

The performance implications of misunderstanding Node.js promises

Ali Yousuf

Ali Yousuf

Jan 22 · 8 min read

for…of over unknown collection with await in loop
Promise.all() on an entire unknown collection

Benchmarking unbounded promise scenarios

╔═══════════════╦══════════════════════════════════╗
║     Test      ║ Average Execution Time (Seconds) ║
╠═══════════════╬══════════════════════════════════╣
║ await-for-of  ║                            6.943 ║
║ bluebird-map  ║                            4.550 ║
║ for-of        ║                            6.745 ║
║ p-limit       ║                            4.523 ║
║ promise-all   ║                            4.524 ║
║ promise-limit ║                            4.457 ║
╚═══════════════╩══════════════════════════════════╝
for…of test code
for await…of test code
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Clinic.js doctor output for for await…of and for…of, respectively
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Clinic.js bubbleprof output for for await…of and for…of, respectively
Promise.all() test code
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Clinic.js doctor output for Promise.all()

Promise chain execution order example
Async chain execution order example
Bluebird.map() with concurrency limit test code
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Clinic.js doctor output for Bluebird.map() with concurrency limit
promise-limit module test code
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Clinic.js doctor output for the promise-limit module
p-limit module test code
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Clinic.js Doctor output for the p-limit module

Conclusion

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Podcast: ADP’s Martha Bird on the Post-Pandemic Dynamics of Work

Mark Feffer: Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology report. I’m Mark Feffer.

Today, I talk with Martha Bird, business anthropologist at ADP Innovation Lab. Her job is to make sure that the human element is accounted for when new digital products are designed, so that, for example, software intended to tackle a specific HR problem can be put to use by HR staff in the real world as they go about their actual work. I began by asking Martha how she thought the COVID-19 pandemic would impact the way people work.

Podcast: #HRTech after #COVID-19: “Things that would normally take months or maybe even years to implement are now talking weeks to turn around.” @ADP #HR #HRTribeCLICK TO TWEET
Martha Bird: Well, I think this is such a huge topic. One of the things I think about is imagine that we’ve been working largely in the U.S. with a very, very low unemployment rate. Now all of a sudden there’s this massive degree of unemployment. Now, in the past when there’s been a tight labor market, certain policies are put into place in order to attract the talent that you want. Now, when you have a flood of unemployed people, what is that going to look like in terms of those mechanisms? I don’t know. But to me that’s a consideration, right? It’s that we’ve gone from very robust, healthy unemployment to a very, very high degree of unemployment from healthy employment. So I think that’s going to be an interesting thing to monitor that’s around talent and talent acquisition.

I think also it’s going to be about the discussion around urban and rural, right? So if people are working more remotely, what does that look like for the person who lives in a rural space who has not had access to perhaps the same economics of job that one would have in a larger metropolitan area. And so if it’s indeed the case that people will begin to work more remotely, that can open up a whole, I think potentially positive economics for rural areas and rural workers. So that’s going to be, I think, very interesting.

And then I think there’s also going to be, for employers, much greater awareness now of really what health actually means in terms of the economy. So, a healthy society, and I mean healthy as in well-being, I think is directly corollary to the economy being robust.

So I think there’s a lot of things going to be continued from where we are now. I certainly hope that’s the case. I hear such wonderful stories about people reaching out with altruistic intent and I think that’s just the way we need to go. But you also hear the stories of individuals vying for advantage. And so my hope is that those will not be the ones who will continue to influence our consciousness as humanity.

Mark Feffer: You work for ADP, obviously, your customers are employers and they make certain demands on you. What new demands do you think you’re going to start to hear? Are the priorities going to shift among what employers expect out of their technology solutions?

Martha Bird: Well, I think this whole… To carry on, on the mobile trajectory is going to be key, right? Because that’s all part of the story, about remote. I think too that there’s going to be… I think there’s going to be, at least for ADP and for those in our industry, there is an expectation that we stay completely agile when it comes to major legislative activities related to the COVID-19. And one of the things that I’m aware of is that indeed we are actually keeping up with these things. And that’s no small matter when you think of all the municipalities, jurisdictions, state and federal level legislation to be able to do that and to be able to provide our clients with security of knowing that we are the most up to date on those matters.

So, that’s about speed, right? And it’s about being able to do things pretty quickly. Things that would normally take months or maybe even years to implement, you’re talking weeks now to turn that around. So I think probably this expectation around speed will continue across a lot of industries.

The other thing too, Mark, that I think is really interesting is this collaboration that’s going on between corporations in order to get things done. So, I think about the ventilator situation where there’s just a dire need for those and the largest producer of ventilators is partnering with GM or with Ford in order to switch the production lines in order to make ventilator and doing open source sharing of designs. I’m hoping, personally, that that will become not simply a response to an extremis, but something that maybe could be continued once this settles down a little bit.

Mark Feffer: My last question is, what is the biggest single dramatic change you expect to see in the workplace after the dust has settled?

Martha Bird: There’s so many things. I guess for me, because I’m an anthropologist, I’m thinking really about the way that we interact with our fellows. I hope that if nothing else this allows us to reset ourselves and to understand that it’s incredibly important to exercise respect, honesty, a decency and kindness, that we are all actually part of the family of humans here, and that everything is connected. And I think that wouldn’t be a bad takeaway, in my view, if people could come to terms with embracing that. And unfortunately it takes something as dire as this situation, but to me that would be a positive outcome.

Mark Feffer: Martha, thank you.

Martha Bird: Thanks, Mark.

Mark Feffer: Martha Bird is a business anthropologist at ADP’s innovation lab. And this has been PeopleTech from the HCM echnology report. To keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.