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Oscar Valdes, Principal Application Developer, represents ADP at Render(ATL), the first major React Conference in the Southern US

Oscar Valdes, Principal Application Developer, represents ADP at Render(ATL), the first major React Conference in the Southern US.

ADP’s Global Employer Brand team had the pleasure of catching up with recently promoted Principal Application Developer Oscar Valdes from our Alpharetta, GA tech team. Oscar has been a great brand advocate for ADP over the last couple of years, and we’re thrilled to feature him. If you’re attending Render(ATL), check out his story of ADP’s tech stack journey and meet him and some of our other technologists at our booth!

Render(ATL) is finally happening! I remember when you brought the sponsorship opportunity to us two years, now, during our focus group. And you’re our speaker, that so exciting! Time flies.

Can you tell us a bit about your career journey and how you ended up at ADP?

Yeah, so I went to the University of Georgia and worked all through college. I worked at the Home Depot with a lead that had come from ADP. When he came back, he brought me with him.

So, tell us a bit about your technical background and what you’re doing now. 

Well, I just got promoted to Principal Architect. My career has moved pretty quickly. Thankfully, I had a great mentor while I was in college. He was one of the trailblazers that helped get JavaScript going in the nineties. It was a unique opportunity to work with him. He did a lot of consulting. So, I was able to grab a lot of experience early on, just consulting with all kinds of backend and frontend technologies. By the time I graduated, I had consulted for over 100 companies before landing at Home Depot. I was there for about three years before I came to ADP. I’ve mainly worked on the MyADP product. I started working on the time-off feature and then moved to more architecture and infrastructure-related things. We recently rebuilt the whole application shell from the ground up, evolving it to a more high-performing solution. Today, I’m doing something similar, but for the mobile app. It’s super exciting!

How did you initially get involved with the Render Atlanta conference? Do you know Justin personally?

So, I worked with Mehul and Rederic, the co-hosts of the Peachtree Devs podcast. We met while working at The Home Depot. They told me about Render when they had me on as a guest for their podcast. Rederic is the CTO for Render, and they are both always advocating grassroots movements in the Atlanta tech scene.


I know why you came to ADP, but why do you stay here, and what was the biggest thing that surprised you about ADP?

I think the level of innovation surprised me the most, and I’ve stayed because leadership has been so responsive to technical input. Our leaders are willing to do the right thing and make the right technical decisions. Technical decisions don’t always align with the correct product decisions because sometimes, that means you have to take some steps back to go forward. But we have leadership that values technical input. That’s been a huge driver of why I’ve stayed and the fact that we are always innovating. We’re not just building for today. Many of the decisions we’re making right now are for things we’re thinking about five-plus years down the road. It’s exciting to hit milestones and see the things we thought about years ago come to fruition.

Awesome, well, it sounds like all your effort paid off with a new promotion.

Yeah, it’s been awesome, especially in my group, where everything is merit-based. If you produce, you can get promoted, and it’s not always like that at other companies. This promotion is my third in three years.

Impressive! Does ADP create a roadmap for advancing, or did you have to figure that out on your own? How did this happen for you? How do you see it happening for your peers?

In Alpharetta, every org is different, so there’s no set protocol. Leadership is very involved with 1:1s, and they’re very committed to letting their direct reports guide the conversations about their goals. I talk with my peers all the time, and everyone is different. Some people want to get promoted and want more responsibility. Some people are happy in their roles, and they don’t want to go into leadership. Some want to stay on the technical route. You know, there are so many different permutations of what people want, but really, it’s leadership, being aware of that, and catering to different roles and different people. At least, that’s what I’ve seen. It’s one of my favorite things about being at ADP. Leadership listens, and if getting promoted is your top priority, they let you know what you need to do to achieve that. There’s no mystery. It’s very straightforward.

So, what are you talking about at Render?

Yeah, so I was going to give a quick background of how I got involved in tech and what it takes to break through because a lot of people struggle with that. Then, I’m going to dive into our technical journey, taking a 10-year-old platform the size of MyADP and discussing the growing pains we’ve gone through.

What kind of skills do you think would make someone successful in the environment you’re working in?

The main thing is being an engineer who is a problem-solver at your core. Our environment gives engineers plenty of room to solution and come up with creative ideas. I think that’s something many engineers like, but it requires the engineer to enjoy and excel at problem-solving and solutioning.

What’s your one piece of advice for anyone entering this career, or a takeaway you would like them to have from your 10-minute presentation?

Probably that allies exist all over the place in the tech space, and if you’re struggling to break through, don’t be afraid to reach out or speak up because there’s someone to help. I’ve gotten to where I am extremely quickly, but it’s only because of the people who helped me along the way.

I’ve had amazing mentors who propelled me forward. For some reason, they wanted to help me. So, look for allies, and return the favor by being a helping hand to others.

See Oscar take Stage 1 live at Render(ATL) on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at 4:30 pm for his talk, “A Tech Stack Journey.”

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