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Design Your Life and Career: Sunitha's Tips for Creating Opportunities

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Coming to ADP  

Before joining ADP in 2010, Sunitha R. had worked in software engineering for over ten years. She has worked with various teams, including Shared Services, Client Implementation, Research and Development (R&D), and Product Development. Throughout her 13 years at ADP, Sunitha has progressed her career, working as a Senior Software Engineer and now, in her current role, Director of Architecture and Development. Read more about Sunitha's journey and her engineering philosophies below.  

"I am a passionate developer. Here at ADP, I pursue my passions by working with three different teams. New ideas are always welcomed, and that's what I love about the culture," Sunitha said. "People support technology innovations and work closely together. Every day is different."   

Sunitha also shared her mindset in employing upstream thinking, an approach that aims to prevent difficulties from happening in the first place. Some of the best frameworks she built include removing more than 50 person-hours for Quality Assurance (QA) during each regression testing cycle while catching issues during the development phase. She is also a big proponent of using ADP's internal open-source community and contributing libraries to the community.  

Power of Design Thinking  

A woman with short hair in navy blue floral top
Sunitha R., Director of Application Development

Sunitha, a design thinking expert and advocate, believes design thinking can transform one's life and problem-solve tasks in building products.   

Here are the stages of thinking she shared:  

  1. Understand your values, strengths, skills, and current season of life. 
  2. Analyze to see if you are happy or want a change. 
  3. If you need a change, frame a challenge statement. 
  4. With your challenge at heart, use mind maps to brainstorm options. 
  5. Highlight ideas in your mind map that match your strengths and identify which ones energize you.
  6. Prototype and test! 
  7. Pick low-cost/low-risk prototypes to try. For example, consider shadowing a person doing the job you want to switch to. 
  8. Test if you like the new environment or need to refine it and find another prototype.  

In 2016, Sunitha welcomed new challenges by taking on her first leadership role at ADP. She described that season of her life as exciting and rewarding. As her children became more independent, Sunitha went back to school and got an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  

"My teams have been so supportive of continuous learning, and I'm grateful to have gotten the opportunity to grow both in and outside of ADP," Sunitha said. "I always have design thinking at the back of my mind while navigating different stages as a working mother." 

Similar to prototyping and testing, Sunitha experimented with leadership styles when she first built the team. From understanding each associate's unique traits and strengths to setting clear expectations, she prioritizes clear communication in every project.  

"This whole process is iterative. You can go back to any of the steps to refine and test until satisfied." Sunitha said. "Use them in your career and life to find out where you want to be."  

Build a Door in Your Career 

In today's fast-paced and competitive job market, building strong relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and industry professionals is essential for career growth. Sunitha also shared the importance of investing in connections and helping others at work. 

"Be proactive in creating opportunities for yourself," Sunitha said. "Find your North Star at work. You will need mentors, sponsors, and allies who support you throughout your career journey."   

Sunitha encourages individuals to be open to new opportunities and approach challenges. She volunteers at the Software Engineering Committee for AnitaB.org and mentors young professionals one-on-one. Through the mentorship, Sunitha often tells fellow technologists to vocalize their accomplishments.   

"When building a mentor-mentee relationship, be clear about what you want from the experience. Communicate what you are seeking and ask questions," Sunitha said. "Keep learning, explore what's next in your career, and be sure to celebrate your achievements on the way!"  

If you found Sunitha's journey and thought leadership inspiring, check out her book recommendations and join her in pursuing continuous learning!

Sunitha's Book Recommendations  

  •       Brave, Not Perfect by CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani
  •       Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans   

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