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.

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Manjula Ganta Headshot

ADP Women in STEM Profile: Manjula Ganta

Manjula’s mantra: “Don’t focus on fitting in; figure out how to stand out.” After reading about her hard work, success and leadership, you’ll see Manjula walks the talk — and encourages others to do the same.

Growing up, Manjula Ganta wanted to be a doctor. She loved science and biology and was fascinated by how the body works as a machine. But med school was financially out of reach, so she chose a career in mathematics. Manjula’s mother encouraged her and her sisters to learn computers.

“My mother was a visionary and could see technology evolving even before the internet existed,” Manjula said. “From her experiences and struggles as a homemaker, forgoing a job opportunity due to culture constraints, my mom inspired her four girls to be independent and encouraged us to pursue our careers. She is the greatest influence on who I am today.”

From India to Omaha

Manjula grew up in a small town in southern India near Hyderabad. In school, she was very outgoing, smart, and well-rounded – a trait she carried into adulthood and her career. Manjula pursued a bachelor’s degree, majoring in mathematics. She simultaneously enrolled into a Diploma in Systems Management program that introduced her to computers. Manjula later earned her MBA with a major in finance, and graduated as class valedictorian.

She moved to Hyderabad to work for a financial services company as a management trainee. Manjula was quick to learn the intricacies of the business and even as an intern courageously presented her ideas. Soon she had an opportunity to design the development of an integrated app to better manage the company’s branch reports. “Curiosity and rapid technology changes led me to learn relational databases and the integrated enterprise application software,” Manjula recalls.

A few years later, Manjula married her high school sweetheart, who had moved to Omaha, NE. She moved from Hyderabad to Omaha, and they started a family. “It was a big adjustment for me, both culturally and professionally,” Manjula said, “and it took a while to figure out how to balance my career and family.”

Manjula began working in Boston as a Peoplesoft consultant for the state of Massachusetts, going home only every couple of weeks. “It was a very challenging time in my life, being a young mother with a traveling job – staying away from home and my toddler son,” she recalls.

Manjula then worked as a Peoplesoft technical consultant for a project with General Electric (GE) in New York in variety of roles. She successfully implemented various Peoplesoft modules, leading offshore teams. After a few years, Manjula’s husband took a new job and they moved to Atlanta, where she continued to work with GE remotely.

Have grit and break your own expectations – expectations can be a weight on your shoulders.

– Manjula Ganta, Director of Application & Development, GPT

After her nine-year project at GE, Manjula joined ADP National Accounts Services (NAS) Outsourcing (COS) division as a senior business systems analyst. “It was a big shift going from development to a business systems analyst role,” Manjula recalls. “I would still get into the code and give the developers inputs about the issues.” She laughingly added, “I think they got frustrated sometimes, but it also helped improve our communication.”

Manjula’s role soon expanded to managing the same development team across analytics, robotics process automation (RPA) and other web/cloud tools and technologies, and she was tasked with managing diverse virtual teams as a single global team. “I was responsible for helping the team see and execute the vision, removing any roadblocks and partnering with other leaders to make it successful,” she recalls. Manjula’s ability to combine business acumen and technical competency, along with her pragmatic approach, enabled her to be decisive and impactful across the COS business.

Manjula then became the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the NAS Tools & Technology Operations, where she worked on several technology and transformation initiatives to develop, support, and enhance ADP’s internal and client-facing tools.

Manjula says she’s taken this approach throughout her career: “As a thoughtful leader, I strive to create a positive and collaborative work culture with emphasis on employee recognition – helping teams to look beyond their differences. Celebrating associate birthdays, work anniversaries and key project milestones helps everyone feel valued and included.”

Currently, Manjula is a Director of Application Development, Global Product & Technology (GPT), where she takes an even broader responsibility for building ADP’s core products from a technology architecture, design, quality and user experience standpoint, to make them more effective for ADP’s clients.

Developing Self and Others

“ADP has a unique culture in which they put their associates first,” she says. “Prior to ADP, most of my development was self-initiated, but here we have many career development opportunities, mentorship programs, stretch assignments, networking events through employee resource groups, technical workshops, etc. You just need to be motivated and find the time to develop yourself.”

Manjula had the opportunity to enroll in an external Pathbuilders mentorship program. “The program helped me to become more self-aware, building my own personal brand inside and outside of ADP,” she says. Manjula is thankful to the leaders, mentors and sponsors who invested their time by providing her exposure at the business unit level.

Carrying it forward, Manjula helps mentor others at ADP and through various non-profit organizations. She is an active volunteer for Women in Technology based in Atlanta, which helps girls and women succeed from the classroom to the boardroom. Manjula recently joined the ADP GPT Women in Technology Leadership Mentoring Initiative (WiTL) that helps develop a diverse leadership talent pipeline through a formal mentoring program. She also volunteers for the American Heart Association, Special Olympics of Georgia, and leads several ADP business resource group events in the Alpharetta location, creating awareness and raising donations for causes she cares about.

Best Advice

Manjula offers this advice for women starting their careers in STEM: “Have grit and break your own expectations – expectations can be a weight on your shoulders. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; it’s important to learn. Life is not just about success; it’s also about failure, difficulty, and learning to recover. Focus on the present, stay positive, and keep going.”

Manjula also recommends finding a mentor. “Mentors have helped me realize my worth and have inspired me to speak up, be myself, and encouraged me to take on the next challenge. One of my leaders would say, ‘I wish you had had your voice earlier.'”

“Always find your support system, family, friends or coworkers and don’t be afraid to seek help or delegate,” Manjula said. “You don’t have to be a perfectionist or do it all.”

She is very grateful for her husband, Ranjith, and two sons, Abhitej and Ritvik, who have always supported her career, helped at home, and offered new and different points of view.

“Have fun, no matter how hard things can get. Humor and fun can always make the journey (personal or professional) easier.”

Through all the learning and big changes as an Asian Indian immigrant and a woman in STEM, Manjula’s best advice is: “Don’t focus on fitting in; figure out how to stand out.”

Read about other ADP Women in STEM and learn about careers at ADP.

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In New York City's Broadway District, a brightly lit, Richard Rogers Theatre marquee displays "Hamilton: An American Musical"

“Becoming” at ADP, one experiment at a time.

Tech & Innovation Blog

“Becoming” at ADP, one experiment at a time.


Career Inspirations, Pushing Limits, Becoming

Not too long ago (pre-COVID), my wife and I actually got a baby-sitter, made it out of the house (around perfect strangers and in Manhattan!), and caught a Broadway show. It was great! You may have heard of it.

In New York City's Broadway District, a brightly lit, Richard Rogers Theatre marquee displays "Hamilton: An American Musical"

Not too long ago (pre-COVID), my wife and I actually got a baby-sitter, made it out of the house (around perfect strangers and in Manhattan!), and caught a Broadway show. It was great! These days, getting out of the house often is rare for us – I know many others with young kids can relate! I can’t get over what a great time we had that night, seeing such an amazing show!

We saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York! Words can hardly describe our joy. A fancy night out for us, we got to enjoy a bit of American history while listening to Hip Hop (!), written by and starring a Puerto Rican guy (like me) from nearby upper Manhattan (“The Heights,” where my wife is from)! Despite my ‘Becoming’ at ADP, one experiment at a time. enthusiasm, apparently, I’m not alone as the show has gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize and several Tony Awards – including Best Musical in 2016! By the way, it’s streaming now on Disney Plus, in case you’ve been holding off on that free-trial.

The show, and its performers, were so gripping and inspiring that it has literally kept me up at night thinking of all the things I haven’t done yet – and how I might achieve more in my career (you know, “I’m not throwing away my shot!”).

The truth is that the last couple of years have been a period of enlightenment (I’ll get into that in a bit), in both my personal and professional life. Seeing Hamilton had sparked the reflection I needed to reach this epiphany and appreciate everything I’ve already accomplished.

Even so, as I played the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat, I became consumed with figuring out ways to do more, move faster, learn deeper, and make an even greater impact! It was all coming together, and this show helped me to see “the forest for the trees.” I realized that I had gotten too caught up in the details of my everyday work, and I needed to step back and see the bigger picture. In my case, the bigger picture was our company’s culture of experimentation, and how I could help take it to the next level!

The bigger picture was our company’s culture of experimentation, and how I could help take it to the next level!

Becoming

The last few years at ADP have been very enlightening for me professionally. I’m super passionate about what I’m working on right now, but this isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way in a role. I’ve been at ADP for over five years, and every season I find myself absorbed in my work facing more difficult challenges. Where more difficult = more rewarding, right?!

I recently joined the product team for RUN, one of our solutions that provides core payroll and HR to small businesses. My portfolio is pretty amazing! The team I lead focuses on adding capabilities for in-product marketing (IPM). I’ve had an opportunity to experiment, like a scientist, studying data, crafting hypotheses, executing small tests, and measuring results! Until now, the experiments I’ve run were more like mini-projects, similar to a Venture Capitalist’s approach to startups with series funding. In a startup, you build incrementally, proving continual growth and viability at each step and, in turn, justifying next round funding.

I’ve never seen rapid-fire a/b testing inside large corporations where I’ve worked before ADP. Many people in my “AgileNYC” network agree that the mini-project approach is ideal for agile teams and businesses but has not emphasized a/b testing as much. In practice, in many corporations, it’s a struggle to decide what and how to build something given limited time, budget, and resources within an annual corporate budgeting cycle.

In the companies where I’ve worked in product management, the focus of product managers and leadership has been on using an “agile” approach for delivery, running sprints to tackle endless backlogs of user stories. Less so around meaningful research and experimentation, which I’ve tried to bring it to the table, albeit on a smaller scale.

An example that comes to mind involves one of my prior roles at a music company, where we built a “rights” app for our synch-licensing team. We always faced constraints, hard deadlines, and zero budget for formal research. So, we did our own “gorilla research,” relying on subject matter experts (SMEs) and peers to give us feedback on ideas and designs. But that just resulted in us talking amongst ourselves without speaking with actual clients. Imagine that. We never had access to the voice of the customer! What’s wrong with this picture, you ask? You are correct! The focus was always on delivery, not the outcome. That left us creating products based on perceived customer needs, which may or may not have resolved their business problems. How would we know? We never asked or measured our results. But they got their solution on time! 🙂

These were the Dark Ages in my career, during which I mastered the art of delivery, backlog management, and Agile, and honed my leadership skills. But I learned little about the impact of the changes that were made, and rarely had the opportunity to go back and make any improvements. I lived in a culture of “on to the next one” (like that Jay-Z song).

When I joined ADP in 2014, people in our Small Business Services (SBS) division seemed pretty serious about Agile development and had started to look beyond backlogs and sprint cycles. Marquis projects like “REDBOX” and “TITANIUM” from our Innovation Center in Chelsea NYC’s Silicon Alley, led the way with new design standards and a new visual design language (VDL). They set up a usability research lab and engaged with people in new ways to inform their product backlogs. ADP shifted into a culture of learning, especially in SBS.

In SBS, we did this with an emphasis on market research, evaluating the strengths of our products compared to our competitors. Using market intelligence from our strategy team supplementing our own research, we spent weeks evaluating our products against competitors’ at the feature level. From there, we moved on to usability testing with clients to assess concepts and prototypes and to gather their feedback. Our SBS leadership team built a Discovery Lab in Florham Park, New Jersey, where we could engage clients outside of New York City. We migrated to Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in place of goals to become more outcome-driven. This shift led to opportunities to attend conferences at the local and national level, and where I felt the first twinge of Imposter Syndrome.

In retrospect, my journey at ADP reminds me of a quote by Lin Manuel-Maranda about the fear and uncertainty you can feel when striving for your goals, and then ultimately the realization that you’ve been able to make an impact – after all. He said, “Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?’”

“Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?'”

I’m a Fraud Phase

In 2017, the head of our product team sponsored several of us to attend the 2017 AcademyOx NY Product Festival at the Museum of The Moving Image in Queens, New York. We were blown away by all of the great speakers from companies like Spotify, Google, Instagram, and Tesla, to name a few. Hearing Mindy Zhang of Dropbox speak about “Imposter Syndrome,” the struggle to internalize one’s accomplishments, and persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud,” left me speechless. Wow! Talk about timing! Having just heard Spotify and Instagram boast about the experiments they can run on their millions of users each day, I was pretty envious, and felt like a straight-up fraud! Luckily, I was able to take solace in a factoid the speaker offered, that we were all ‘Impostors’ (according to research she quoted, at least 70% of product managers admitted this)! She said it’s “OK” because this meant we were continually learning and that we had the skills to learn the “skills.” That made me feel better, but more importantly, it awakened me to new possibilities thanks to the collective of conference speakers and ADP for giving me the opportunity.

I took what I learned at the conference and was determined to apply it to my work. I made some advances! I used some of the tools I picked up and shared them with my stakeholders. I found that people were receptive to these new ideas. I even had the opportunity to experiment with some impressive results. For example, last year, we launched an experiment within the Retirement Services Team to migrate clients from a legacy product with one partner to a new product with another partner before the client’s legacy product subscription ended. Migrations can be risky since they allow clients to consider other vendor products. We didn’t want to lose the business, and we wanted to give our clients the best possible experience without disrupting their operations. So, we experimented with super-concise copy, and a very light UX (only two clicks). Clients converted fast, we met our goal of 50% client-conversion in less than 60 days, and eventually exceeded our goal and retained almost all our legacy clients.

Based on this win, I knew there was more we could do. We came across another opportunity with our digital marketing team. I felt like an impostor again when they presented a readout on their latest Marquis project. I realized what I’d been doing was on a small scale, while they had been operating at scale with full-fledged experiments, which they shared in detail with our entire product organization. At first discouraged, I remembered I had the skills to learn the “skills”! So, I networked with them, traded notes, shared my ideas, and asked them questions about their work!

Growth Mindset

ADP’s evolution and modernization over the last few years have been a true success story, which I attribute to the company’s culture. ADP went beyond agility and adapted a learning culture. Although I haven’t heard it described this way, ADP’s culture has been about adopting a “Growth Mindset.” In the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carolyn Dweck, the author describes her research and findings that support the belief that ability can be developed through effort and by embracing the challenge. The book describes the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In her research, students with a fixed mindset believed their abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits. While in a growth mindset, students understand that they can develop talents and abilities through effort, good teaching, and persistence.

ADP has cultivated a learning culture that is pervasive throughout every discipline, business unit, and region. For example, in SBS, Product Managers have gathered for “Lunch & Learns,” almost every month, to gain insight into other areas of the business, including our own. We also have gotten together for ‘book club’ meetings to share specific ideas and stories from popular books about product management, marketing, leadership, and psychology. As a larger Global Product & Technology organization, we have partnered with Audible for free employee subscriptions to “squeeze” learning in by listening to audiobooks. That’s how I read Mindset and about ten other books! In product management, we host a monthly “Stand up,” where our leaders review what they’ve been working on, which allows us to share with our peers, and host guest speakers from outside of ADP. Our most recent speakers included Marty Cagan and Chris Jones from the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG)! As part of my growth and learning, I’ve attended 4 ADP-Sponsored conferences since 2017, including Mind The Product 2019, in San Francisco. All of this has helped me shake “imposter syndrome.”

‘I’ll Never Finish’ Phase

I’m still focused on how I can take our experimentation to the next level. When I started working with the IPM team in RUN, I knew that I would use that domain to further the experimentation culture by setting a new example. I started strong, full of ideas after having read Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis. I developed a network of “Growth Hackers” with whom I can develop experiments. I continue to share my ideas with stakeholders and have scheduled ‘readouts’ of my experiments, explaining the hypothesis, setup, plan, and latest results. I now speak the same language as my digital marketing peers, setting up variables and controls for each test, identifying primary, secondary, and even tertiary conversion metrics, conducting funnel analysis, and demonstrating statistical significance.

It’s a journey. My IPM team is small and very scrappy, and we use all the tools we can get our hands-on. We frequently collaborate outside of our team to generate even more ideas. We’re crafting an architectural vision for how our a/b testing framework can operate using a combination of the latest and greatest experimentation tools, in collaboration with our current infrastructure.

Our strategic vision is to “Generate conversions with IPM by offering products and features that are the right FIT for a business, can add VALUE to operations, and help make a positive IMPACT for both the client’s bottom line as well as ADP’s.” We even have our own sticker!

As we enter the next fiscal year and set our objectives, many of my stakeholders have come to me about a/b testing capabilities. So, the word is out!

Also, as a response to the current Pandemic, I was asked to help design a UX for ‘Alex,’ a persona we created to represent our clients at the human level, to help her navigate the crisis and take necessary and relevant actions. We experimented with a non-native UX tool and iterated the design and implementation countless times during the early weeks of the crisis. Perhaps, if not for some of the work I’ve done with the IPM team, I wouldn’t have been asked to help on this significant and meaningful project? In the words of Lin Manuel-Miranda, have I created what I set out to create?

Adrian R Carrión is a Director of Product Management at ADP in New Jersey.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Life Lessons from a Butterfly in Troubling Times


Thoughtful advice, Pandemic

It is springtime in New Jersey, says the calendar. A cool, 55-degrees Fahrenheit, says the Weather app. But somehow our world feels to me like it’s frozen in time. Instantly, the world as we knew it came to a grinding halt from a microscopic virus.

Two white butterflies with black markings sitting on two flower buds

It is springtime in New Jersey, says the calendar. A cool, 55-degrees Fahrenheit, says the Weather app. But somehow our world feels to me like it’s frozen in time. Instantly, the world as we knew it came to a grinding halt from a microscopic virus, thrusting us into a sci-fi movie set where the concepts of time—hours, days, weeks, months—begin to blur, and we, the people, have scrambled to find ways to ride out the storm.

With each passing day bringing hope, we accept grace and guidance to truly connect to what matters and be generously more kind, helpful, supportive to understand one another. The virus has not disappeared and faded to a distant memory (how we wish!) Yet, we found the strength to know that this too shall pass.

With the sunshine, a new day begins with bright blue skies, beautiful spring blossoms, and then come the butterflies, a precious gift from nature.

I am sure the butterflies and flowers have been there all along, yet, we have found the time to watch them dance and glide from flower to flower with delicate grace.

While we pause to watch the butterflies, we cannot stop thinking about the prolonged impacts triggered by the pandemic. We are suddenly thrust into an unfortunate economic situation layered with layoffs and furloughs across the globe, friends, family, and people we know at work, or in our connections, impacted.

Especially in the current situation, layoffs, and furloughs are often not personal and are not reflections on individual performance. Please know that as hard as it is for anyone impacted, it can be harder for their employer and their managers who suddenly have to part ways with their people. For both employer and employee, regardless of the duration of association, it is essential to fill that moment of separation with grace and gratitude for shared opportunities and accomplishments.

Yes, emotions run high, and there is pain we cannot wish away. Still, please refrain from burning the bridge or kicking the ladder that helped you climb in your career. It is a small world, after all.

Now more than ever, if you know someone who has lost their job, please extend your grace to connect with them and wish them well on their journey onward.

It only takes a few minutes to reach out. Hearing your voice and knowing you care matters more than you know. Genuine reflections of your kindness will bring them the hope they need to help them in their career journey.

Share opportunities to expand their network connections and maybe even guide them on some easy learning, volunteering, and mentoring opportunities for them to lend a hand to support our bigger community.

We are entering a new world, and in time and together, we, the people, will learn to be agile to adapt and adjust both at work and in our life. For now, stay positive and think of this disruptive time as a break to rest and re-invest in yourself, an opportunity to open to new possibilities. Soon enough, a new day will come with promising sunshine just for you!

Yes, a career is a journey that brings amazing people together to build relationships that last a lifetime through the rest stops, detours, and adventures. Like the butterflies, we have an opportunity to expand our circle of influence and our network. Enjoy the journey and be happy always.

Are you the butterfly caught in a strong wind? If so, exit with grace and gratitude. When the winds calm down, and you start your next flight, Always Believe in Yourself. Know there will be other gardens and wildflower patches that await your arrival when the time is right. In that place, you will once again dance with friends and make your music in your own way.

So, the break is time to Rest, Recover, Recharge, Re-Ignite, and be Ready. Best of Luck!

Stay Connected,
Jyotsna

Jyotsna Manikantan is a Lead Product Manager in Roseland, NJ.

Post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Edited and reprinted with permission.