Tech & Innovation Blog

Advancing Your Career


Lifion, Career Journey, Leadership

Video: One Product Manager's Take on Advancing Your Career

Meet Chintan, one of our product managers in our New York City Innovation Center. He started at ADP as a Developer and since that time has grown into new roles, like his latest one as Product Manager. ADP has the ability to offer new experiences and untapped opportunities for those who want it.

Tech & Innovation Blog

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


Fireside Chat, Career Journey, Impacts of COVID-19

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

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[MARTHA BIRD] Mm-hmm. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[MARTHA BIRD] My pleasure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People.

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

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Urvashi

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

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

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

The Only Woman

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

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

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

– Urvashi Tyagi, Chief Technology Officer at ADP

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

Urvashi Tyagi

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

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

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

Learning and Solving Problems

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

Urvashi-With-family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready for more?

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

Related Video: How ADP Walks the D&I Talk

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

Tech & Innovation Blog

ADP’s 2020 Distinguished Engineer: Jigesh Saheba


Recognition, Voice of Our People, Engineering

Q&A on his Career Journey, Being the recipient for one of ADP’s most prestigious awards, and a few things you might not know (+ a Surprise Video)

ADP's Distinguished Engineer: Jigesh Saheba

With that mindset on innovation, it’s easy to see why ADP named Jigesh Saheba as their first Distinguished Engineer.

This new honor recognizes leaders and individual contributors who are at the forefront of ADP’s transformation into a global technology leader. To be recognized as a Distinguished Engineer, one has to have achieved noteworthy professional technical accomplishments in an engineering role. Also, that individual must have created and fostered technical career paths for technologists that allow them to master their craft, innovate, and generates groundbreaking solutions that can transform the future of work.

We caught up with Jigesh shortly after being named the ADP Distinguished Engineer to learn about the start of ADP’s Marketplace and asked a few questions about his journey. Here’s what he shared:

A group of college graduates throwing their graduation caps in the airWhen did you start working at ADP?

I joined ADP in 2002 with the acquisition of AtWork Technologies, a benefits administration startup in Atlanta, GA.

Can you share your career journey at ADP?

I started at ADP as the Director of Application Development for Benefits eXpert system and later promoted to Senior Director role. In 2006, I briefly joined the Enterprise Architecture team and was soon assigned the CTO role for ADP Pre-Employment Services. There I played an essential role in the acquisition, assimilation, and growth of multiple products. I rejoined Enterprise Architecture in 2010 and started working on the mobile platform. Later that year, I joined the Roseland Innovations Lab, which delivered several groundbreaking technologies, including ADP Mobile Solutions, event-driven APIs, and semantic search. I received a promotion to Chief Architect in 2013. In the same year, I started working on building an integrated HCM ecosystem around ADP, which was the birth of ADP Marketplace. In 2015, I became the VP of Product Development for ADP Marketplace.

You are basically the cornerstone of ADP Marketplace. How were you able to develop such an integral part of the solutions we offer our clients?

For ADP Mobile Solutions, ADP systems exposed their data and services via hundreds of Web APIs.  I started thinking about how Web APIs can expand the reach of ADP to new channels such as third-party applications, partner networks, and integrated solutions.  I believed ADP could position itself in the center of a vibrant HCM ecosystem and drive higher customer engagement. I envisioned a business model expansion and new markets. I theorized that the app stores and marketplaces, a familiar notion of consumer-mobile ecosystems, could become essential tools for enterprise application innovation, discovery, and distribution.  I created a presentation to convey the concept and gained senior management approval.

We incubated the idea in the Lab and demonstrated the working platform in the summer of 2014, and then we started working with a handful of partners to prove out the model and platform. We received industry acknowledgment when ADP won two prestigious awards at the HRTech Conference in 2015. Don showcasing the award-winning ADP Marketplace is one of the proudest and most satisfying moments of my professional career.

Jigdesh, holding an award,with other associates around himHow did you learn you were going to be named ADP’s first Distinguished Engineer, and how did you feel when you were told?

I heard about the Distinguished Engineer role and my nomination from Rich Guinness, SVP of Product Development, Shared Services. I shed tears of joy when the announcement came and was so fortunate that I could share that moment with my family in person.  I am incredibly honored and grateful for the role and very thankful to GPT leadership for enabling an environment where innovation and quality engineering thrive.

What excites you most about the opportunity to be a Distinguished Engineer at ADP?

I am very honored and grateful for the recognition.  I hope I set an example of the role.  I am excited about the voice it offers, and I hope to amplify the voice of all technologists at ADP.

What’s a day in the life like for you and your team?

I am very fortunate to be working with some of the most talented people I know. We enjoy collaboration, and one often hears spirited discussions at “the wall,” an open collaboration space with a whiteboard wall at our Lakeview home. We are known for clapping a lot, which promotes camaraderie. The best days are when I work with the team to drive product decisions, design solutions, participate in reviews and demonstrations, and even troubleshoot issues.

What advice do you have for associates who may have ideas that they want to share?

Never give up!

What do you believe is the best reason to work at ADP?

ADP Culture – Integrity, inclusiveness, diversity, trust, and innovation.

What’s the last book you read?  

Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll

What is your favorite TV or streaming show?

GOT (Game of Thrones)!

What is your favorite ADP value?

Integrity is Everything

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ice cream. Yes, really! (Those who know me would agree)

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I started my career at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, working on navigation software for the Space Shuttle.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Dog

Congratulations, Jigesh, on this amazing accomplishment. We’re excited to see what’s yet to come!

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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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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.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Meet Anshuman: ADP’s Inventor of the Year


Inventor of the Year, Voice of our People, Career Path

Through ADP’s patent program, Anshuman’s name appears as an inventor on ten patent applications filed within the last five years, seven of which have registered.

Anshuman Gaur

Anshuman Gaur was named ADP’s Inventor of the Year. Through ADP’s patent program, his name appears as an inventor on ten patent applications filed within the last five years, seven of which have registered.

Since joining ADP 11 years ago in Hyderabad, India as a Test Analyst, he’s been an amazing contributor to our organization. We recently caught up with Anshuman to ask him about the patent process, his advice for other inventors, his cricket experience, and more!

What different roles you’ve had during your time at ADP?

I started as a Test Analyst in the Next Gen PayExpert team. From there, I moved to a business analyst role, and then a Sr. Business Analyst role within the same group. By this time, PayExpert had transformed into a single database Workforce Now (WFN) solution with HR, Payroll, Time & Benefits all running on the same platform.

In 2014, I moved to Alpharetta, Georgia, as a Product Manager for WFN shared products such as reporting, analytics, PaaS, etc. In this role, I had the opportunity to work on the launch of DataCloud, an HCM analytics product targeted at mid-market clients. After a short stint with the DataCloud product team, where I had the opportunity to pilot ADP’s compensation benchmarking and predictive analytics features, I went back to the WFN team as a Director of Product Management in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Video call with the team

In early 2018, life came full circle when I received the opportunity to lead the WFN Next-Generation product. We work on the future of work and pay every day, including some cool features like on-demand pay, punch to pay real-time calculations, etc. We have an awesome opportunity to challenge the status quo and lead in the market with a competitive next-gen offering.

In a nutshell, I’ve had so many roles and so much fun! 🙂

What did you think when you first learned you were ADP’s Inventor of the Year?

It was quite surprising, to be honest! Many great products and features are being built across the organization, so it’s an honor to be recognized with this award. Also, being on the same list as Frank Villavicencio, VP, Product Management, is an absolute privilege.

What’s your process for coming up with ideas that would be great for a patent?

That’s a great question, and something we focus on quite a bit in our day-to-day work. It’s a combination of client need awareness, market and competitive awareness, and problem-solving skills. I am lucky to have a great team of developers, UX designers, and product owners who bring these skills to the table. We look at how we can solve problems that give the customer a delightful solution and, at the same time, gives us a competitive advantage.

We recently filed a patent for a solution that not only eliminates some key challenges and pain points but also exceeds the competition. It’s worth securing those features with a patent.

What is the patent process at ADP?

It’s quite straight forward. Once you have identified a feature or an idea for a patent, you can submit an invention brief on our internal associate portal under the ADP Patent Program. In this document, you provide a brief summary of the invention, the problems it solves that couldn’t be solved before, and how the solution is unique.

Once this is submitted, IP lawyers make the magic happen coming up with claims, preparing the filing documentation, etc. You need to participate in reviewing these documents during the process. Once the application is submitted, you can easily track progress on the portal.

What advice do you have for other inventors?

We solve many large-scale problems here at ADP. Our inventions are unique to our size and our business, and so I encourage everyone to take a moment to ask a couple of questions as they discover new ways to solve problems:

“Am I creating an intellectual property?” If the answer is yes, “Does the solution solve a problem in a unique way that can be secured by a patent?”

These questions are a simple way to guide inventors through the decision-making process of securing IPs. There is no doubt that inventions are happening here. We need to take the additional and essential step in securing it.

What do you like best about working at ADP?

There are many things, from passionate people to amazing culture to great opportunities. But if I were to pick one, I would say it’s the large-scale problems that I love to solve working with various cross-functional teams.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Don’t ever stop playing cricket no matter how hard and busy life gets! For the cricket fans out there, I used to bowl right arm, medium-fast.

What is your must-have app? Yelp & YouTube

Anshuman Gaur is a Senior Director, Product Management at ADP based in New Jersey.

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.