Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves.
ADP is proud to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM) by recognizing the cultures and the histories Hispanic Americans contributed through generations in this country.
This year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, which means making positive impacts together. We connected with Isabel Espina, Vice President of Product Development, WorkMarket. She’s a dog-lover, a traveler, and a leader who always focuses on paying it forward.
Here’s her lens on giving back to the community.
Moving Forward, Welcoming & Connecting: A Leader’s Journey
By Isabel Espina, VP of Product Development
Adelante, in Spanish, means to move forward. It is also commonly used to welcome someone into your place. ‘¡Bienvenidos! ¡Pase, Adelante!’ – Welcome, come on in! Latinos value family as a source of strength and protection. Welcoming others and making them feel at home is part of our DNA. The sense of family and belonging is intense and is not limited to the immediate family but the extended grandparents, cousins, friends, and friends of friends.
These families very often extend to our work families. Feeling connected and belonging allows us to feel comfortable and bring our authentic selves to the experience. ‘Estás en familia’– you are part of the family. You are safe, and we have your back. These values were core to my experience growing up.
I was born in Cuba during the height of the Castro Revolution. My parents were the first from their respective families to leave, seeking freedom of expression and opportunity. They left their homeland and family for a better life in the United States. They wanted their daughter to grow up with freedom and opportunities.
We arrived in Spain in December, a time of year meant to be joyous and surrounded by family. Instead, we were alone in a foreign country. Fortunately, we had kind neighbors who welcomed us into their homes, helped us with warm clothes, and invited us to ring in the New Year. They even showed up on January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany) with a small gift that ‘Los Reyes’ had left in their home for ‘Isa.’ This kind gesture from our Spaniard neighbors meant the world to my parents. We were not alone. We had support and felt a sense of belonging. The sense of inclusion gave us tremendous comfort.
This connection quickly grew into a community that gave us insight into navigating employment in Spain. Although we were not Spaniards, we connected to our neighbors through language, ancestry, and family values. With the help of the newly established community, we thrived in Spain and prepared ourselves for the next leg of the journey to the US.
The values ingrained in the Spanish culture of family, support, and solidarity translate directly to how we lead organizations.
ADP’s Research Institute has studied the data and developed a measure of Inclusion Measuring the ‘I’ in D-E-I. They define connection as one’s feeling of being seen, feeling heard, and feeling valued for their uniqueness. The study found that strongly connected people are 75x more likely to be fully engaged at work.
It’s been 25 years since I first came to ADP. Key to the culture here is the sense of inclusion, which is why I stay. I joined to create innovative products, and I did. Every time I hear there are millions of users now with the ADP Mobile Solutions app, I think of the days when I brought it to life with my previous team. Although the app has evolved beyond what we did, I find it rewarding to hear how much people love it today.
The more comfortable one feels with the team, the better the ideas flow. The creativity and excitement then lead to an amazing product. We must attract a workforce representative of our clients and the communities where we live and work. These communities allow us to understand and provide insights into building better products.
One way to gain a sense of community is to join and attend events sponsored by a Business Resource Group (BRG). I am an active member of Adelante, a Hispanic community that allows us to connect based on shared values. These may be direct connections because you are Latin American/Spanish or have shared interests in the music, the food, and the culture. What matters is we can come together and share in a community. I can’t think of a better way to grow one’s professional network and learn.
In the course of my time with Adelante, they invited me to do a panel to support STEM women and mentor young students. I also recently attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, where I met wonderful women technologists from diverse backgrounds working together to support each other. It was an extremely rewarding experience! I’m reminded of that sense of inclusion I felt when my family first came to the US. I’m inspired to give back to my support network.
As a technology leader, I always think about attracting great talent in this highly competitive environment. Digital transformation and advanced technologies continue to shape current and future jobs across industries. I encourage my team to grow together, meet other associates across different communities, and always support one another.
Giving back to our communities is good for not only our business but for all of us. I invite you to explore ADP and all we offer, including our BRGs. Be a role model, grow professionally, and pay it ‘Adelante.’
We look forward to continuing sharing stories from Latino and Spanish technologists.
Interested in Product Development?
Learn more about what it’s like working for ADP here and our current openings.
#nationalhispanicheritagemonth #givingback #careerjourney #productdevelopment #ADPTech
Senior Leaders, Future of Work, What We Do
A podcast episode for those interested in the importance of data, humanization, and digital disruption trends in the workplace.
Humanization and Digital Disruption Trends in the Workplace with Don Weinstein
Don Weinstein, Corporate Vice President of Global Product & Technology, spoke on Now of Work, a weekly podcast hosted by Jason Averbook and Jess Von Bank.
The episode is excellent for anyone interested in the importance of data, humanization, and digital disruption trends in the workplace.
“We hire data journalists who took all the pay equity data that were hard to unpack and put them in infographic style,” Don said. “We didn’t advertise; instead, we stepped back and watched what happened. We had over 1,000 clients discover it.”
Imagine seeing two employees with the same job, skills, and experiences but different pay. Don’s team found more than 75% of the clients, meaning over 1,000 organizations, acted, and made pay adjustments for over 210,000 individuals.
The power of data collection and engaging apps are changing the workplace across generations. “We’d like to do our part and give back to the community,” Don said.
When it comes to conversations on current challenges, Don shared with hosts Jason and Jess his insights on hybrid work. The key elements to consider include getting the taxes and pay right when employees work in different cities and states.
On top of hiring remote workers, Don emphasized the importance of onboarding and engagement.
“We’ve been studying engagement for over 20 years,” Don said. “Last year was the first we’ve seen the honeymoon effect, meaning employees tend to have the highest engagements during their first-year arrival at the company, went away.”
As ADP continues to hire globally, Don encouraged the teams to be focused. The responsibilities include training managers, engaging, and providing for hybrid workers.
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
“STEM, to me, is beyond degree and credentials. It’s about applying and leveraging engineering knowledge and empathy toward every product.”
Devi R. is a technologist who enjoys exploring the world and inspiring others. She joined ADP in 2020, building the ADP’s flagship MyADP with her team in Global Products & Technology. She’s been to 54 countries and all seven continents. Devi loves traveling to South Africa for natural scenery and Portugal for the history, art, architecture, and food!
Engineers build products with a purpose in mind and the goal of designing for people. I came to ADP with that mindset and found myself in a place that shares the same value.
I have been a consumer of ADP’s payroll product since 2006, so I was excited to hear about the MyADP business app project and took the opportunity right away. I thought, “I want to work on this!” It’s been two years since I came to ADP, and I’m incredibly grateful to be in a culture that values every voice.
I lead the MyADP Product SRE & DevOps teams within Global Products & Technology. For those unfamiliar with MyADP, it is a global, high traffic and volume unified UX web/mobile solution using Cloud technology. Our product is in the Top 10 business applications in the app store. Millions use the product to perform human resources, financial services, onboarding, performance management, payroll, time & attendance, benefits, retirement services, etc.
If I asked myself how my passion began, I’d say it was the endless possibilities in the field that continue to inspire me, including innovation awaiting discovery. When it comes to DevOps, I appreciate the opportunity to perform transformation across various products because it motivates me to strive for better results with my team.
Day In Life as Senior Director, DevOps
To give you an overview of my day, we get an average of between seven to 10,000 transactions every second on our product platform. My team keeps track of the error rate, meaning even 1% can be a considerable number in this user pool. The task makes my role as a technologist critical. It’s no longer about the technical skills that determine if someone is qualified; instead, it’s about empathy for what one is building.
Behind every product my team makes, we understand there are real users and the real impact the product brings to their lives. As a technologist, I make sure the technology is practical and human-centered. With a large amount of data and information, I am proud to say we handle data with security, precaution, and care. We use the data to help people, making user privacy our top priority.
STEM, to me, is beyond degree and credentials. It’s about using engineering knowledge and empathy toward every product. I stay at ADP, where I surround myself with associates who value client feedback and user experience.
Women in STEM
With various tech roles in the industry, I recommend young technologists invest in education and explore as many options as possible in life. The field continues to evolve and challenge the leaders with innovation, changes, and automation.
All the elements above make working as a woman technologist meaningful. I remember serving as one of the women and telecommunication junior board members for a year in my previous company. We collaborated across the nation to understand and research women technologists’ career paths at that time.
Six of us dove into why there are not enough female technologists in the field and quickly learned that many young girls get distracted from pursuing STEM early in their education. The first drop in interest in Tech happens between middle school and high school. We saw a 70% decline in enrollment to 10% by the end of that period. I encourage educators and technologists to inspire young girls, especially at around 8th grade in middle school; the earlier, the better.
As we did more research, the 10% enrollment in STEM when they first enter college drops further by the time they reach junior year. I had the same experience and recalled being one of 15 girls out of 100 students in the classroom. By the time I graduated, there were only three of us left. I kept thinking this would change over time but soon realized we are not there yet. Research conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows why gender gaps are particularly high in the computer science and engineering fields. Download the Why So Few Women in STEM Report here.
Experience the Reality in the Industry
So, what can individuals do to help close the gender gaps in STEM?
I am passionate about finding out what and how to make young talents focus on STEM early in their career, including providing the right tools, giving concrete advice, and demonstrating the reality in the industry. If you are a student or a recent college graduate, check out our campus programs here.
ADP offers a Development program where young talents get an opportunity to meet with leaders and understand our products. Some of them already have a STEM career, and we provide a taste of the real world before hiring them at the end of the program to become full-time associates.
I’m motivated to mentor these recent college graduates and show how much impact their decision to pursue Tech can bring. When facing intersections in their choices, I tell the young women technologists to try everything. It’s essential to understand what interests you and remember that true passion brings you further in life.
Whether building a product or entering a new career track, I encourage you to be empathetic towards the people you work with, creating a product for everyone.
Click here to search for your next move and visit Who We Hire.
Women in STEM, Anthropology, Innovation
How might ethnography help advance our understanding of human and machine relationships?
Driving Innovation with an Ethnography of AI
By Martha Bird, Chief Business Anthropologist at ADP
Humans are typically curious by nature, but there’s a deep resource around human behavior that can be tremendously valuable as we design our strategies in business and life in general.
Cultural anthropologists combine curiosity and empirical science to deliver sustained value. We’re trained to interpret and translate why people do the things they do and how unconscious and overlapping motivations influence their actions, their attitudes, their approaches to the myriad people, products, politics, and places of everyday life. We do this by spending time in the places where people make meaning, a method of inquiry known as ethnography. It’s what gets us excited, and it’s where we impact academia and industry.
Part of our work focuses on challenging the things we take for granted and, in so doing, encouraging new ways of looking at ideas, interactions, and people we may have overlooked in the forgetfulness of the routine. Curiosity is our “rocket fuel.
My colleague, Jay Hasbrouck, captures the spirit of the anthropological mindset when he writes, “When used as more than a research tool to expose consumer needs, ethnographic thinking helps companies and organizations build on the cultural meanings and contexts of their offerings, develop the flexibility to embrace cultural change, focus their strategies at critical cultural phenomena, and test and develop business model changes.”1
Where Ethnography Comes In
For those of us in the tech sector, in particular, our focus is quite aggressively on questions around data biases, including how algorithms are constructed and, ultimately, who they advantage and who they don’t. It’s a much bigger issue than simply feeding the machine and imagining that the outputs are somehow free of judgment. They’re not.
But who should be responsible for exploring the roots of these biases that pre-exist machine learning — biases that are already deeply embedded in culture. We hear a lot of blaming in the popular press about this or that platform creating unfair advantages. Nevertheless, should we leave it to data analysts and computer scientists to untangle these social inequalities? It seems a more appropriate area of investigation for those of us who study culture and the power flows that animate it.
So, we begin to ask questions. What’s fair in a data-mediated world? What role does empathy play in communicating evidence and big data? What constitutes evidence in a global context, among others?
Placing blame on flawed algorithms and the companies on which data-driven services depend is really missing the critical point. We need to look outside tech and start to get serious about the very non-technical realities that contribute to an unequal present and, consequently, an inevitably unequal future.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the admittedly broad subject of AI viewed from an anthropological perspective. My main goal in doing so is to further challenge the cultural category of AI (big and small), while also exploring how ethnographic methodology (direct observation/active listening) might help advance our understanding of the human and machine relationships forming here and now and tomorrow.
Specifically, I’m thinking about two main question areas. First, a definitional focus: How might we begin to articulate an ethnography of AI, what role might AI technologies play in the service of ethnographic practice, and how might (and does) ethnographic inquiry inform AI technologies? Second, a philosophical focus: Who is responsible for bias in data, algorithms, and outcomes to include discussion around how work related to AI is currently organized within tech companies today?
As companies become increasingly reliant on data-driven insights to build their offerings, market their products, and guide the scope for future projects, we need to get serious about the reality that data isn’t raw or clean — but rather deeply reflective of the social and political circumstances from which they are pulled and to which they contribute. It’s an exciting time to be an anthropologist working in technology where the human is deeply enmeshed with the machine.
Get more insights from Martha Bird by reading Storytelling in Business: Capturing Organizational Wisdom.
The ADP Research Institute is the global thought leader for Labor Market and People and Performance research. Don’t miss the latest data-driven insights from the ADP Research Institute; sign up to get alerts in your inbox.
1 Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset (Anthropology & Business) 1st Edition, Routledge, 2018
Link to the original article.
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Agile allows teams to move faster and build better products, enabling developers to work through the development cycle in a shorter timeframe.
Nicole P., Senior Director of Application Development
Coming to ADP
Nicole P., Senior Director of Application Development, celebrates her 15th work anniversary at ADP. She received her master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Georgia and started working as an Application Developer in 2007. “I look for the opportunities to grow, learn, and make an impact,” Nicole said. “I stay because I have never run out of opportunities to develop professionally. There are always interesting topics to tackle at ADP.”
Her current project transforms and streamlines the Sales and Underwriting process for ADP’s TotalSource business while providing a user-friendly, digitally guided Prospect Portal Experience to engage and delight prospective clients. “The project also reinforces our value by providing data-driven insights throughout the entire sales process,” Nicole said.
“As a technologist, STEM is about problem-solving and innovating. It equips us to solve different challenges in the world,” Nicole said. Her first internship after graduate school later turned into a full-time job, creating device drivers that controlled satellite broadcast equipment. “I was amazed to create something out of nothing. With just bits and bytes, this equipment could control the equipment from anywhere in the world. I still feel the magic today in performing tasks with new technologies.”
Nicole believes her passion for always looking for creative solutions drives her in the STEM field. “There’s nothing more energizing than having a supportive team, a whiteboard, and a problem to solve,” Nicole said. “It is rewarding to make progress that helps drive business outcomes for our clients. I enjoy the opportunity to problem-solve in my daily job.”
Traditional Vs. Agile Methodology
“I learned about the differences between the traditional and agile methodology in one of my projects. We started with traditional waterfall and transitioned to using the agile methodology,” Nicole said. “As the project progressed, we solved the bugs we found earlier. My team found early testing and feedback to be helpful and led us to find problems sooner.”
Standard waterfall methodology takes a very linear view of problem-solving and application development with heavy upfront analysis followed by design and development. This process might require months or even years before the team ever got to collect client feedback. By then, client needs might have changed, and the solution may no longer fit their needs.
On the other hand, the Agile methodology allows teams to move faster and build better products. The method enables developers to work through the development cycle in smaller increments time-boxed in a few weeks. “The agile method allows us to code tests and get feedback early. As a result, we end up with a better product overall, incorporating the ability to pivot as a client’s needs change,” Nicole said.
Team Efforts: Collaboration
“One of the challenges in working with multiple teams across many initiatives is to make sure that we are collaborating in a way that allows us to leverage all the exciting innovation happening across the organization,” Nicole said. She ensures developers aren’t duplicating efforts and building the same things across different teams. “We must be certain to prioritize the right initiatives that drive the most values for our clients and business outcomes at ADP.”
Nicole tracks remote work and hybrid workforce models in application development, imagining the future. “We’re going to see a lot more applications and innovative technologies to help teams stay connected and engaged in projects, and helping companies manage their remote workforce.” Read about how AI/ML are driving innovation and opportunities at ADP and watch the 2022 Workforce Trends video here.
Proudest Project: Transformation
Nicole was proudest of a project called Greenfield. The project completely transformed the way that our TotalSource business services clients. “Our tech team for HRO and our TotalSource business teams partnered together to reimagine our internal business processes, service model, and technology, enabling our ADP outsourcing business to grow and provide best-in-class service for our clients,” Nicole said. “It was the most interesting, exciting, and challenging project for me. We came together to solve impactful problems for our clients and businesses while innovating with the latest technologies.”
During this time, Nicole’s team also underwent an exciting Agile transformation, releasing features at the end of much shorter development sprints. “We were putting valuable software into the hands of our clients and business partners much faster and more frequently,” Nicole said. “Ultimately, that allowed us to build an even better product due to a quicker feedback loop and the ability to pivot as business needs and priorities changed.”
“Using Agile, we involved our entire development organization, 15 scrum teams, and our business partners,” Nicole said. “It’s been about five years since we our transformation, and we still see the impacts today.”
Tech Community: Campus Recruiting Events
Nicole attended the Grace Hopper Celebration twice and participated in ADP recruiting events there. She loved meeting other women technologists, and together with ADP recruiters, helped extend some of the 90+ offers made. Nicole even worked on a team for a couple of years with one of the technologists recruited from a Grace Hopper Celebration.
Nicole is also active on ADP’s campus recruiting program and new hire program, meeting future technologists. She works with Brandon P. from the recruiting team, going through all the resumes. “We have a great campus recruiting program with our talent team. I set up booths on different campuses at their career fairs, meeting the students as they stop by looking for either internships or full-time opportunities,” she said. “I share with the students what we do at ADP and help them identify good fits with their interests.”
The students ask frequent questions like: What technologies is ADP working on? What are the required technical skills? When students at career fairs ask, “I’ve only worked on Java for a year, should I apply?” she encourages future technologists not to let fear get in their way and to apply. “We expect that coming from school. However, we are more interested in candidates’ passion for technology and their ability to learn,” she said.
Advice for Future Technologists
As for advice, Nicole said, “Find something you are passionate about and work hard. Be curious and persistent in pursuing your goals.” Nicole also said, “You can learn as you go; it’s impossible to know everything in advance but have faith in yourself—have confidence in yourself to learn different tasks as you grow.”
Nicole recalls her experience teaching Intro to Programming to undergraduate students while pursuing her master’s degree. She found teaching rewarding because she loved sharing knowledge with others. “Occasionally, students would come in and tell me they changed their majors to Computer Science after taking my class,” Nicole said, “Which was amazing.”
Other advice? She encourages future technologists to keep learning, stay open-minded, and look for mentoring opportunities. “I’ve been fortunate to participate in an emerging leader program and connecting with people who helped me along the way,” Nicole said. “I looked at my career differently through mentorship and appreciate my mentors who’ve guided me along the way.”
Click here to search for your next move and visit Who We Hire.
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Cheryl’s team asks themselves: How can we develop the most innovative payroll engine? How can we do things differently? How can we transform? Let’s dive deeper.
Cheryl L., VP of Product Management, Inspires Her Team to Ask Better, Meaningful Questions
Coming to ADP
Cheryl L., Vice President of Product Management and Strategy, leads the product management and strategy team for ADP’s next-gen global payroll solution. She is an adaptable leader with management skills capable of delivering results from strategy to execution. Cheryl is passionate about helping companies transform and grow through outstanding customer and user experiences. She has experience in working cross-functionally, communicating, and influencing all stakeholders.
Before coming to ADP, Cheryl worked in consumer retail management consulting. “I always enjoyed making an impact, so I wanted to join a client-focused company that was data and technology-driven – a company that understood the importance of the digital world and technology,” Cheryl said. “ADP was the one company I never found a reason to say no to, and that’s how my journey began.” She stayed at ADP because she loves the people and the culture here. Her teams and managers support innovative ideas, embracing a positive working culture.
There are different strategies in ADP’s transformation to a technology company, including focusing on leadership, developing innovative technologies, and making global impacts. Cheryl believes ADP’s transformation to a technology company has different meanings to different teams. “From business operation to data science, everyone’s contribution matters. We’re in this together and I’m so glad to be a part of the journey,” she said.
Leaders at ADP advocate diversity and inclusion efforts, embracing associates from different teams and years of service. “You could be a frontline worker to meet the company’s executive officers and know they’d love to hear your thoughts,” Cheryl said. “I appreciate the mindset we have as a group, and I believe understanding every associate’s voice benefits engagement and productivity.”
As a leader, she appreciates her team’s ability to approach problems with logic. Her team enjoys passionate debates with critical thinking. People on Cheryl’s team educate and have intellectual conversations with each other, never shying away from challenging questions. “My team is great at asking questions. Why? What can we do differently? How do we influence others to approach their work? What is the best we could provide?” Cheryl said. “I appreciate the availability and openness in teams at ADP. Each mindset has a unique, diverse lens in approaching problems.” We are proud of the working culture at ADP, where we promise every associate with career advancement and personal growth.
ADP does an excellent job by providing different mentorship opportunities for technologists. As Cheryl reflects on her career at ADP, she shares methods to identify the opportunities and how she connects with people across various teams. “I felt it from day one that people recognize and value all mentor-mentee relationships,” Cheryl said. “I encourage associates to let people know you’re looking for a mentor.”
As a mentor in the technology group, Cheryl believes mentorship is important because it’s not just about work; it is about growth, receiving practical advice, and gaining perspectives. She has been a mentor for the last two cycles in a formal mentorship program, connecting with other women technologists. “Each round of mentorship takes about six months, and the experience has been fascinating,” Cheryl said. “I have been in contact with every mentee since the program ended. It’s a long-term professional connection that empowers, inspires, and makes a difference in one’s career path.” She feels privileged to get to know people outside of her areas and help them think through the challenges, the opportunities, and the focus of their careers.
STEM: Foundation in Life
Cheryl received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the John Hopkins University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. With years of education and working experience, she defines STEM as the foundation of every discussion. “It is the foundation of science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is about the ability to solve problems with evidence and to think logically,” she said. “This type of thinking helps me connect with absolutely anything and anyone in the world.”
She recalls sharing with a friend about her niece making paper airplanes over Thanksgiving. The scenario reminded Cheryl of her time in school, studying math and science. “We talked about aerodynamics and related topics. The experience comes back to the core science,” she said. “It’s the ability to use mathematical and experimental technique employed logic to solve any problem that comes your way.”
Advice for Women in STEM
There are endless possibilities in technology development and those who work in tech. “You’re not limited by anything. I encourage women technologists to keep learning because you would apply the knowledge in unexpected areas of life. All you must do is to try. Getting a no is not the worst thing in the world. Don’t be afraid of rejections. Those experiences are helpful for you to acknowledge the right causes, giving you time and opportunities to analyze the outcomes,” Cheryl said. “You could then think about how to pivot, do something new, and change. We should be more afraid of never getting the experiences in the first place.”
Cheryl sees changes as evolutionary and essential in her career path. She went from working at a top-three management consulting firm on beauty and consumer brands to working in payroll and technology. “I’m excited to move from strategy to product with ownership and ability to drive more tangible outcomes,” she said. “I’m excited to figure out what my next step is, continuing leading teams and meeting great minds at ADP.” She is grateful for her decision to come to ADP, working with talented associates and managers.
Outside of Work: Baking Hobby
We are interested in learning what recharges the associates. For Cheryl, baking brings her joy and laughter. She bakes once a week outside of work and enjoys reading about desserts. She was excited to share she created a small delivery service in her community during the pandemic. “I started driving around, delivering the sweets to my friends who lived close to me,” Cheryl said. “My absolute favorite is Apple pie, and I’m also obsessed with making marshmallows from scratch.” Her friends are so lucky to have her!
To Cheryl, #ADPTech is creative, passionate, and innovative. “I believe you must be passionate about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I appreciate my teams and their innovations, always asking the essential questions,” Cheryl said. “We ask ourselves: How can we develop the most innovative payroll engine? Let’s figure out the ecosystem. How can we do things differently? How can we transform? How can we think differently? What does it mean if we chose one direction over the other? Let’s dive deeper.” At ADP, we value feedback and outcome together as a team, tackling every step of the challenges together.
Click here to search for your next move and visit Who We Hire.
AWS re:Invent 2021 – ADP Uses AWS to Enable Workforce Insights
Video, Leadership, What We Do
Accessible Video Controls
[JACK] Having spent more than 30 years in the tech industry working on analytics in the cloud,
[JACK] I was drawn to ADP because of its mission.
[JACK] It’s a mission that’s aligned to my core values.
[JACK] Those values about helping people improve their lives by unlocking the power of data.
[JACK] But before I tell you how we do that, we need to start at the beginning.
[JACK] ADP started in 1949 in New Jersey, helping businesses pay their employees.
[JACK] From its early days, the company has always been focused on invention and innovation.
[JACK] We’ve had a proud history of a lot of great products and great firsts, fast forward to today, we’re the largest provider of human resource software and services.
[JACK] So, what does that mean in terms of the size and scale of our business?
[JACK] Well, those numbers are pretty impressive. We have over 920,000 clients doing business in over 140 countries.
[JACK] Our technology powers, payroll processing, tax payments, job applications, timesheets.
[JACK] That means a lot of data, and a lot of money is moving through our systems on a daily basis.
[JACK] In fact, we move over $2.3 trillion a year.
[JACK] This is the money that’s used to pay you, pay me, and to submit our taxes, and to put money into our retirement funds.
[JACK] Now, the issue with $2.3 trillion is a massive number.
[JACK] And for me, it’s a hard number to understand.
[JACK] So, I thought about it a little bit, and I said, how can I conceive of that?
[JACK] Well, what if it was GDP?
[JACK] It’s not GDP. But if it was GDP, how big would that number be?
[JACK] So, we kind of took a look at it.
[GRAPH] Comparison charts of GDPs in other countries.
[JACK] Here’s the top ten GDPs.
And if that $2.3 trillion was a GDP, ADP would land somewhere between France and Italy.
[JACK] So, all of that data, all of this information gives us a unique perspective on the world of work.
[JACK] In fact, every month we issue a report in the public interest called The National Employment Report, came out just this morning.
[JACK] And so, as you can see, we deal with all this data,
[JACK] It takes a special ability for us to be able to scale and manage it.
[JACK] We started our journey to the AWS cloud for this data in mid 2019, and we did it for three important reasons.
[JACK] One, so that we could tap the new capabilities.
[JACK] Second, so that we could get elasticity in the cloud.
[JACK] And third, it really has helped us create a data driven culture, so that we are more reactive, more understanding about what’s going on in the world.
[JACK] Today, we’re processing over two and a half petabytes of data with over 25 billion individual data points represented, and that’s boiling down to 312 trillion decisions a month being taken by our analytics and machine learning processes.
[JACK] Our team is at the very heart of that treasure trove of data.
[JACK] We build data analytics products, including the ADP DataCloud, which provides people analytics and HR benchmarking to help companies measure, compare, predict, and understand their workforce and support them.
[JACK] This allows them to see trends, allows them to see if the programs and policies that they’ve put in place are effective.
[JACK] Everything you’re seeing here is calculated on AWS using a full range of data analytics and machine learning capabilities.
[JACK] We use Amazon Sage Maker for our machine learning, Amazon EMR, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Neptune to perform aspects of our overall data processing.
[JACK] These capabilities have enabled us to keep innovating on behalf of our clients, and one way we’re doing this is to help them with some pressing needs in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion across their workforce.
[JACK] That’s why my team developed the new Diversity Equity Inclusion dashboards that we launched earlier this year.
[JACK] It helps a company baseline and understand their diversity program and not only internally, but for the first time in the industry, to be able to compare themselves to other companies, not just other companies in their location, but also other companies in their industry, and by company size.
[JACK] And this baseline information allows them to see whether or not their programs are having a positive and beneficial impact on the diversity programs that they’ve put in place.
[JACK] We still have issues, though, to address in terms of pay equity, but before we get into that, let’s step back and take a look at what’s happened in the US employment market over the past 20 months.
[JACK] What I’m showing you here is data from ADP that shows you what happened in the total US employment over those past 20 months.
[JACK] You can see when the COVID crisis began.
[GRAPH] Total US Employment Rate Change
[JACK] Unfortunately, there were differences in terms of the types and genders of people losing work.
[JACK] In fact, what you can see is, yes, a lot of people lost their jobs. Those jobs are coming back, but men actually fared a lot better than women during the pandemic.
[JACK] Certain industries were affected a lot more as well, hospitality, manufacturing, retail; areas that have not yet made full recoveries.
[JACK] If we look at pay, you can see, though, that the gap between men’s pay and women’s pay is not where we all want it to be, but it seems to be level over time.
[JACK] However, these numbers are a little bit misleading, because if we add back in those jobs that women lost at a larger extent in those industries from hospitality, transportation, the pay gap is actually getting worse.
[JACK] In fact, my associates at the ADP Research Institute tell me that 20 years of progress for women have been lost in terms of pay equity gaps over the pandemic.
[JACK] But collectively, we have an opportunity to improve that.
[JACK] So how do we do that?
[JACK] Well, our team has also recently built and launched a new capability called The Pay Equity Storyboard.
[TEXT] Pay Equity Storyboard
[JACK] It’s a set of insights and tools and explanations and visualizations that allow companies to understand the pay equity issues that they have and to do plans and to make changes proactively, taking insights straight to action to correct pay gaps.
[JACK] Now we released this just a few months ago at the beginning of the summer.
[JACK] So, on just a few months of data, we’re starting to see some pretty incredible reactions.
[JACK] About 1000 clients have started to use the pay equity storyboard, 65% of them showing pay equity improvement.
[TEXT] Improving Pay Equity
1,000+ clients using the storyboard
65% showing improvements in pay equity
$1.1 M average impact
$728 M returned to communities
[JACK] On average, per client, they’ve made a $1.1 million impact, that’s over $720,000,000 returned to communities.
[JACK] This is about people, individual people, and for an individual person that’s equated to about three $500 for 210,000 people and for workers whose industries are hit hardest by the pandemic.
[JACK] This is meaningful money.
[JACK] This could mean making a need of car repair. It could mean enabling children to participate in extracurricular activities, or simply saving money for a rainy day.
[JACK] At ADP, we’re always designing for people and data informs how we do that.
[JACK] At the end of the day, all of our data and everything we do starts with them and you and I, and tens and hundreds and thousands of people.
[JACK] Now is the time to use data to help people, to understand what actions we can take, to create a more diverse, more equitable and a more inclusive work environment and to build the future we all want to create.
[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People.
[JACK] Thank you.
ADP helps more than 900,000 businesses manage their people and processes payroll for nearly 70 million workers, generating a massive amount of data in the process. Jack Berkowitz, Chief Data Officer, presents how ADP uses AWS to enable workforce insights and raises awareness of payroll equity by using data measurement, analytics, and machine learning capabilities.
“Now is the time to use data to help people,” Jack said. “Together, we create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment.” ADP continues to help companies measure, compare, predict, and apply futuristic knowledge to their workspace. Watch the full presentation now.
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Great Stories: From LEGO® Bricks to Data By Jack Berkowitz, Chief Data Officer.
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Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Nicole, Senior Director of Operations, shares how she transformed from business to product and technology throughout her career journey at ADP.
Coming to ADP
Nicole’s career journey to Tech was an evolution. She has 20 years of experience in payroll and hadn’t thought about the technology behind it when she first started. “A mentor of mine changed my thinking. She reminded me what we did was software implementation, which changed my perspectives on projects and future opportunities,” Nicole says.
When she came over to ADP’s Global Product and Technology (GPT) group, Nicole played a role in translation between business needs, operations goals, products, and technology. “With my background in payroll, I can put processes together and execute them,” Nicole says. “I proudly serve as a liaison between business goals and technology to build great products.” She felt accomplished when another ADP associate thought she came from a traditional product background. It was a defining moment for Nicole, knowing how much she transformed into a product and technology subject matter expert throughout her career journey.
Designing for People
“STEM is the foundation of our daily life, constantly changing and transforming how we do things,” Nicole tells us. “Working at ADP is exciting!” She loves how ADP always offers a variety of new projects. “Even though we are a large corporate company, ADP values the individual voices of its people. There’s always an opportunity here to deliver impact and make a difference,” she says.
Early in Nicole’s career, she worked on a migration project for over three years with about 200,000 clients. She is currently working on projects Payroll Innovation (PI) and Next-Gen Technology. “The Next-Gen in payroll calculation and compliance is powerful. These are my favorites because they are at the core of how ADP operates,” she says.
Nicole looks for opportunities to lead others who come from similar backgrounds in operations and business sides, getting them closer to ADP’s products without feeling apprehensive. She also recognizes the value in bringing the operational and the business sides closer to technology. For those who have a traditional tech background, she makes sure they understand the impact.
ADP: Transformation to Tech
Nicole always likes to ask other leaders their thoughts on ADP’s transformation into a technology company. As an associate who’s been here for 20 years, she enjoys ADP’s blending of great service and technology. “We went from a traditional service provider to leading with technology, and eventually, we hope tech is the first thing that comes to mind in the future,” she says. “I enjoy watching the transformation, as do other long-tenured associates! Seeing them use innovative technology in new ways is inspiring.”
“I am blessed to have some incredible mentors who have shared valuable insights with me,” Nicole says. She also had the opportunity to mentor multiple talented individuals, and advocates organic mentoring relationships. “I’ve never met a leader who refused to spend time with associates. Be open and ask questions! Mentors are there to guide your learning experiences. It’s a growing process for everyone,” she says.
Everyone is a Leader
Nicole thinks highly of her associates and recognizes people’s strengths and understands how they fit in her team. She likes letting someone develop what he/she is good at, providing all the support. “I ask questions: Is that skill an asset? Do we need the skill in the team? Job descriptions for my team are detailed and crafted with intention,” she says. Nicole loves learning about people’s passion and motivation behind the tasks.
“It takes confidence to be bold and conquer the fear of leaving your swim lane,” she says. Nicole encourages STEM women to speak up and offer ideas, even if the ideas are not mainstream. As she says: “Always be prepared to back up your opinions with a clearly articulated vision for the team! It is one thing to have an idea and another thing to execute it.”
Nicole has a 10-year-old daughter who loves robotics and electronics. She loves supporting her and getting involved in a lot of youth activities at her school. “It’s great to see children get creative and passionate about technology!” she says. To her, #ADPTech is creative, human, evolving, and diverse. The elements together create a culture that is inclusive and understanding. Regardless of experience and background, people take the time to listen to one another’s opinions and ideas.
Recharge and Reset
Nicole loves to travel. She books with a company that caters to women traveling alone, and gets to meet other amazing women during her trips. Some of places she has visited include Glacier National Park in Montana, Banff National Park in Alberta, Chile in South America, Calgary, and Costa Rica. Her next trip, a fitness retreat in Bali, is coming up next year. She can’t wait!
Nicole has always been an athlete, and her trips often involve outdoor activities. “As much as I love technology, I love to disconnect and travel solo,” she says. Traveling allows her to rest and recharge. When she comes back to work, she is filled with innovative ideas and so much energy. “Not to mention, these experiences make me a better person.”
Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, Innovation
Dr. Raji, one of the pioneers bringing AI/ML to Pi-Payroll innovation products at ADP, shares her career journey and the different automated processes her team creates.
Dr. Raji came from a lower-middle-class family in which both of her parents did not receive high school diplomas. “I saw their struggles, and as a girl growing up, I also faced different social pressures. Then I soon realized my love for math at school.” As she says: “That was when I made the connection in my mind, and I believed a STEM career could make a difference.”
From Bioinformatics to Automotive Industry
Before joining ADP, Dr. Raji has worked in various industries, including three years in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked on H1N1 Vaccine strain selection models. Her team took serology, sequence, protein structure, and phylogenetic data; they compared whether the current vaccine strain covered the virus’s dominant circulating strain. Dr. Raji took a break from Bioinformatics and later joined a Cox Automotive company called Manheim to help roll out OVE, a product providing car recommendations for online users. She also worked at a healthcare fraud prevention company called Cotiviti that focused on claim overpayment, fraud predictions, and prevention.
“When I first came to ADP, I was surprised to see the amount of data. We can produce so many innovative products from these. Every data scientist would love to work for ADP,” she says. “The second thing that surprised me was the freedom I got. The amount of support I got from the leadership teams was terrific. I got to be myself at work, knowing they welcomed innovative ideas.”
Coming to ADP
When Dr. Raji joined ADP a few years ago, the company didn’t have many data scientists. She built a team of full-stack Automation Intelligence Machine Learning (AI/ML) technologists from scratch. “We call ourselves PiBrain, and we solve use cases across different business units through an advanced state of innovative AI/ML products and solutions,” she says. “I built three notable products through Digital Transformation, using AI/ML algorithms and APIs.”
“The first product involved automating digital implementation for some of our products, which eliminated manual processes and increased our net promoter scores, gave a better user experience, and increased client satisfaction,” she says. This process gave her team a more accurate data conversion process and saved costs for the clients. Dr. Raji introduced another automated compliance checkup product for pay statements, which eliminated the laborious process of scanning pay statements one by one and automating the process. The last project involved form digitization with a feedback loop that continuously learns from overrides.
Dr. Raji’s team focuses on several key areas in their current work. The first product is Deep Learning, an authentication stack that identifies, extracts, and connects the documents. Another one is a Natural Language Processing stack that demonstrates transformation translation.
Her team helped build API services that take company handbooks as inputs. They used Natural Language Understanding models and elucidated answers for questions such as “What holidays are offered?” and “What is the holiday pay for full-time/temporary employees?” The responses were automatically sent back to implementation systems as callbacks to fill out the guided interview process.
Giving Back to Community
Dr. Raji and her team attended last year’s GPT Connect and gave three presentations. The first presentation was open-source tools for AI/ML. Another one was Computer Vision and Deep Learning for naïve to advanced data extraction. “We also showed our Associates how to interpret Vendor Language and map those in ADP constructs,” she says.
“My team and I looked for outside opportunities to create an impact. We attended the Southern Data Science Conference in 2019, where we used data to predict human trafficking.” Her team successfully visualized and built models to predict trafficking. They identified “hubs,” where children were trafficked to and who trafficked them. An FBI director attended the presentation ceremony and found Intel helpful in targeting criminals. “The project gave me satisfaction because we worked for a cause. We wanted to make sure our knowledge continues to help others and give back to the communities,” Dr. Raji says.
One STEM Education at Innovation Academy
“People say it could be engineering, science, or math. But to me, STEM is a combination of all! It is an application of each field coming together to solve a business problem,” Dr. Raji says. She believes STEM is an applied field where interdisciplinary work is valued.
This is especially important in Dr. Raji’s involvement with Innovation Academy, a STEM school ADP sponsored in Alpharetta. “The goal is One Stem Education. I was one of the ambassadors who helped set up the syllabi and influenced the type of education students received,” she says. Dr. Raji’s love for children and STEM made this a perfect opportunity for her to have conversations about STEM opportunities. She is looking forward to planning and creating lab spaces for more talents who are interested.
“We talked a lot about my background and where I came from. My life is a lesson itself. If you have a dream, don’t give up,” she says. Dr. Raji believes the secret of life is to fall seven times and get up on the eighth. For those pursuing data science, she recommends thinking outside the box and approaching problems from different perspectives. “Keep in mind being a data scientist means spending substantial time in data prep, data cleaning, deployment, and data quality checking. Patience is critical as each of the tasks is essential in building a complete model,” she says. “There will be challenges and disappointments, but don’t lose faith. Keep learning and chase your dreams.”
Dr. Raji is looking forward to inspiring more people and attracting more talents to ADP. To her, #ADPTech is innovative, supportive, and welcoming. Her team wants to mentor more women technologists and have more of them in leadership positions!
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