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Tech & Innovation Blog

Roll Forward: How breakthrough products are redefining ADP as a tech innovator 


Senior Leaders, Innovation, Future of Work

Roberto Masiero, SVP Innovation Labs

For ADP as a tech innovator, this is just the beginning of the journey.

Roll Forward: How breakthrough products are redefining ADP as a tech innovator 

Roberto Masiero, SVP Innovation Labs 

From my long tenure at ADP, I’ve learned that when a company gives you the latitude to move around—either within the technology space or from technology to business or sales—you get plenty of chances to reinvent yourself. And reinvention on the individual level influences the reinvention of the company as a whole, which I think we really see now with Roll™. 

Roll™ is a mobile chatbot platform that uses AI and natural language processing technologies to anticipate users’ payroll needs intelligently. It’s the first-ever DIY payroll technology, and it’s so intuitive that our clients just download it and go; a lot of them never even talk to a customer service rep. But while we designed Roll™ to seem effortless, it’s the product of years of creative work with a unified team. The idea for Roll™ was to simplify payroll and HR using a novel UX and platform. I run the Innovation Labs at ADP, where we develop new products as quickly as possible. We’re a relatively small team, around 30 people from diverse backgrounds and with no hierarchy, allowing us to pull together tightly as a group. It’s important to me to have a flat organization because the moment you create hierarchies, you create ways to point fingers. In the way we work, everyone shares responsibility.  

We came up with the product idea for Roll™ about four years ago when we were finishing up ADP Marketplace and wondering what to do next. At the time, most of our lab projects were satellite projects, adjacent offerings to our existing core services. I thought, “What if we reinvented the core?” We saw an opportunity to improve multiple facets of our payroll platform—the architecture, the design, the user experience. We had a chance to envision a whole new system. 

We fixated on this idea of events—that everything done as an action within the system should be recorded as an event. In fact, we initially named the product “E” for “events.” For example, if you hire someone, pay someone, or terminate someone, we record each action as an event. This way, we know who did what, where they did it, what time of day, and from what device. All that information taken together feeds a machine learning engine where the system gets better the more it gets used. Instead of a system with a bunch of menus, forms, and reports, we imagined a vector of events where events cause other events. We basically built the software as a workflow. 

But we didn’t stop there. We also wanted to transform the UI into something much simpler and more direct. People tend to design user experiences with a sense of engagement in mind, but that’s not what we needed here. We didn’t want people engaged; we wanted them to get the job done and exit the software. So with Roll™, the user goes straight to chat and tells the system what they need, and the software understands. If it’s to hire someone, change someone’s W-4, change a payroll schedule, the user asks, and the software guides them through the process using conversational UI. 

We also built Roll™ to function 100% on mobile. We decided the UX would use a simple chronological timeline, similar to Facebook or Twitter. Clients love having one place to go to see their activity: “Yes, I ran payroll yesterday evening,” or, “Great, that new W-4 went through.” In addition to optimizing for mobile, we also wanted a strong desktop presence. We noticed our desktop users liked to grab info from the system and transfer it to Excel spreadsheets, so we decided to give them an Excel-like UX.   

We finished Roll™ in July 2019 and got a pilot client in August. That fall, we presented the software to ADP’s executive leadership team. We got the feedback that we were sitting on something big that works for small to large corporations. But they encouraged us to focus on the smaller markets, those with one to ten employees. So we spent a couple of months designing an additional layer of software to cater to small businesses. In March 2020, we piloted Roll™ with about 50 smaller companies who all liked what we were offering, and then the executive committee told us to put Roll™ on the market and sell it as soon as possible. So we went from pilot program to full rollout in under a year, and today we’re getting dozens of new clients a day signing up for Roll. 

A big part of what makes Roll™ stand out is integrating natural language processing with machine learning. We designed Roll™ to understand the mental model of our user’s meaning. We wanted the chatbot AI to talk the way people talk.  

We brought in ADP’s business anthropologist, Martha Bird, and copywriters to advocate for the user, helping us to shape the Roll™ voice. We didn’t simply want AI to predict what our clients needed for payroll purposes––though that ability was definitely important. We wanted the voice of Roll™ to demonstrate human understanding. For example, Roll™ learned to respond more positively when addressing a new hire or giving someone a raise in pay, whereas it is more subdued when discussing termination. It’s that empathetic understanding that gives Roll™ an edge in human interaction. 

On the backend, we decided that we didn’t want to run servers, or even containers, like Docker or Kubernetes. Instead, we made every event a function. The beauty of functions is that they only exist while that function is running. So our cost of running Roll™ is extremely low. Using cloud services and this idea of functions is another way Roll™ sets itself apart.  

Of course, Roll™ didn’t come without its challenges during the development process. Fraud is something we have to consider whenever we engineer or develop a new product. But this is what I love about the Lab: We think of our challenges as opportunities to make our products better. How can we improve? How can we automate? How can we reduce the amount of burden on the system from someone trying to commit fraud? And when we meet a challenge, everyone jumps in to help. We either fail as a team, or we succeed as a team. 

I’d say we’re succeeding right now, and the beautiful thing about Roll™ is that it’s always running. We change our models to pick up on new ways clients ask for things, and every new question pulls into Roll’s knowledge and experience. So the more clients we have, the better the software becomes. It’s an unprecedented level of automation. 

A program like Roll™ can help further ADP’s digital transformation from merely a payroll company into a competitive tech company. What makes Roll™ exciting is that it almost creates its own category; it’s a technological solution no one else has. We can dominate this market and apply some of the same breakthroughs—machine learning, using functions—with other ADP products. For ADP as a tech innovator, this is just the beginning of the journey. 

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Tech & Innovation Blog

Roberto Masiero, SVP Innovation, talks about his journey from entrepreneurship to founding ADP’s first Innovation Labs.


Senior Leaders, Innovation, Career Journey

Roberto Masiero, SVP of Innovation, talks about his journey from entrepreneurship to founding the first Innovation Labs at ADP

We decided to open the first lab in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with a specific goal: to develop new products as quickly as possible.

After starting his career as an entrepreneur in Brazil, SVP of Innovation, Robert Masiero first came to ADP 20 years ago through an acquisition—and he’s been building new technologies here ever since. Below, he reflects on what led to the founding of the ADP Innovation incubators in Brazil and the U.S., explains the beliefs that shape his leadership style, and shares the cutting-edge challenges the team is taking on next.

First, tell us about your background and what brought you to ADP.

I started working in technology while I was in college as a mainframe operator on the overnight shift. I didn’t get much sleep! After that, I learned to code and became a developer, then did mainframe support. I had this urge to start my own business—and I did a few times. The first two failed, but the third one, a consulting company that transitioned applications from mainframes to open systems like Linux and Unix, did well. Eventually, we decided to create our own software for things our clients needed, things like HR, payroll, and accounts receivable.

That software went through several iterations, from character-based to client-server, Windows-based to the web. That was the mid-90s, and it was unusual to have software that could run in a browser, so large companies started showing interest. We added team members, but eventually, our product outgrew our business—we needed to expand our sales force, distribution support, and ability to do on-site implementations. At the time, there was no venture capital in Brazil; your only options were getting a bank loan or finding a partner. So we started going to trade shows. At one of them, we knew ADP would be two booths down from us, so we made sure to get their attention—we had this big TV screen showing all our client logos, many of which were also ADP clients. That started a conversation, and ADP ended up acquiring the business.

What was it like to integrate into such a large company?

I remember thinking we had a massive opportunity to succeed because, back in those days, ADP had mostly manual processes—people called or faxed in their payroll. So, in our first six months, we took the software we’d built for our clients to use and built a layer on top of it that allowed ADP to run things on a client’s behalf. We were just this tiny new acquisition, and ADP was very conservative at the time, so when we presented the updated software we’d created, I wanted to put on a big show. I rented a hotel ballroom, even though I didn’t have the budget for it, and I invited the entire leadership team.

They gave us a couple of large clients, and that turned out to be transformative. After a while, ADP shut down their mainframes in Brazil and moved those clients to our software—including GPA, which is like the Wal-Mart of Brazil, and the largest single payroll we ran globally. The complete transition took a few years. When we were done, ADP’s U.S. leadership team sent their CTO down to take a look; I think they weren’t quite sure it was real. But he liked what he saw—clients were happier, costs were down—so they invited me to move to the U.S. and adapt the software from a new tax credit services acquisition.

You started the first ADP Innovation Lab around that time. What led to that one—and the second lab?

We decided to open the first lab in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with a specific goal: to develop new products as quickly as possible. At the time, I was more familiar with the talent there than in the U.S. In Brazil, I could build a team of people I already knew, who were already familiar with the technology we wanted to use. So, ADP’s primary development team handled payroll, while we had a small team that focused on the tax credit work.

After the project was over, ADP invited me to run a Shared Services team of 700 people who handle identity management, the enterprise service business, and our internal associate portal. Then I moved over to Enterprise Architecture for a while. But I still had an entrepreneurial drive. About a decade ago, I went to ADP leadership and said I wanted to build an Innovation Lab here in the U.S. to focus on incubating completely new ideas. They said, “Okay, let’s do it,” and they gave me a team of four to get it started.

Roberto sailing

Tell us about some of the projects that the lab has developed.

We launched around the time the iPhone came out, so our first project was ADP Mobile. We put it together in about a year, and we used modern database tools like MongoDB rather than the Java- and Oracle-based ones that were typical at the time. We also built it for everyone; small businesses and multinational corporations could use it, and it worked in every country and supported 40 different languages. It grew very well—I think we reached a million users in less than a year. But I’d said from the start when we created that lab. I wanted to keep it small and flat, never more than 30 people, which meant when a project reached a certain level of maturity, it would “graduate” from the lab and get a dedicated R&D team. That’s what we did with mobile, which now has something like 25 million users.

After that, we worked on the tablet application and then built out semantic search, which we now use across ADP’s core products. The most recent project that graduated from the lab is ADP Marketplace, a collection of HR solutions that clients can customize and integrate with our software. The latest product we developed is called Roll™, which required an entirely different way of thinking about our services. Roll™ is a 100% mobile chatbot platform that simplifies payroll using state-of-the-art AI and natural language processing technologies. It can intelligently alert a client when something needs their attention—it’s an unprecedented level of automation.

What do you think makes a good leader?

In part, I think it’s about completely understanding the work your team is doing. When you’re running a large organization, of course, it’s also about who you put in charge—you have to trust your direct reports to make the right decisions. But even when I was leading hundreds of people in Shared Services, I still wanted to be familiar with the processes and skills they needed to do their jobs.

I never want to micromanage, but I do want to be hands-on and in the know. It’s leading by example—if there’s a production issue, for instance, I’ll be on a late call with the team. People appreciate it when you’re committed to their ideas, and they can trust you to have an educated conversation about the decisions that need to be made, whether that’s around technology or go-to-market strategy.

A good leader also ensures everyone on the team has a voice, whether they have ten days of tenure or ten years. In fact, the untrained eye of someone who’s starting their career can be a phenomenal asset to the rest of us. If you have an opinion or see something we could do differently, it’s so important that your input be heard and considered. Ultimately, we have to be pragmatic in our decision-making, but I love debate. I love being challenged and being proven wrong. The push and pull from many different perspectives makes this work fun.

What’s challenging about your work?

The toughest thing for any leader is making difficult decisions that affect other people. If you’re letting someone go, for example, even if it will be healthier for everyone involved, that’s very hard.

ADP’s size can also be a challenge because change is difficult for any big company. But I see that as an opportunity: If something has been done the same way for decades, let’s ask why. How could we change that process to make it more efficient? ADP is exceptionally open to challenging the status quo. Our people have the incentive to challenge existing ideas and revisit how things are done to find opportunities to improve or design for better outcomes. Just as I like my team members to challenge my assumptions, we get the same message from the very top of the company: If you see a better way, a chance to transform the way you work, you should be able to do that.

What’s exciting to you about ADP’s future?

I’m excited for us to continue investing in new ideas to make the lives of our clients and ADP associates better. We’re going through a period of significant change, and that’s never without challenges. But the level of commitment I’ve seen keeps me hopeful. We’re doing our small part in the lab with products like Roll™, and that’s just a portion of a company-wide effort to deliver on new technologies and innovations. All of us are committed to success and meeting our clients’ and associates’ expectations with innovative products and technologies that will have a phenomenal payoff and carry us through many years to come.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Tashina, VP of Operations & Digital Transformation, shares her journey and why it’s an exciting time to work for ADP.


Women In STEM, Senior Leaders, Career Journey

Tashina, VP of Operations & Digital Transformation shares her journey and why it's an exciting time to work for ADP

When I joined ADP, they were in the midst of investing in next-generation products…it was a transition period, which I thought would be a great time to join the company and lead through that exciting change.

ADP’s Global Employer Brand Editorial Team, Liz + Kate, catch up with one of our Senior Leaders on the Global Product & Technology Leadership Team, Tashina Charagi, our VP, Operations & Digital Transformation. She shares her career journey, some of the exciting projects she’s worked on, and why it’s such an exciting time to work for ADP.

Welcome, Tashina! Tell us a little about the career path that brought you to ADP. Tashina stands in field of tulips

Sure, so I’m originally a technologist by training with a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I worked as a software developer before going back to school for an MBA. I worked on a Windows Mobile phone (if you remember, the thing that looked like a Blackberry). That was around the time Apple introduced the iPhone, and the competition pretty much crushed us. I realized that in my role as an engineer, I didn’t have a full view of what was going on in the market, what customer preferences were, or how strategically we make some decisions. I took that as the impetus to go and broaden my business education.

After getting my MBA, I ended up consulting, again with the same desire to broaden my education and learn about different industries.

As I reached mid-career in consulting, even though I enjoyed the work I did with technology applications and the impact I was driving, I realized the amount of travel wasn’t feasible anymore. The second thing I realized was that I couldn’t see the final impact of my work. I couldn’t see the actual human impact or benefit to clients. That’s what I wanted more of, so I ended up looking at ADP.

At the time, I knew the reputation of ADP and the kind of work they were doing. Most importantly, I knew that they were going through a transition, and they were at a critical point in time. Our CEO liked to say we were a “75-mile-march” company. We’ve been around for a long time, but at every single phase of our life at ADP, we have made significant changes required to serve our clients in the best possible way.

When I joined ADP, they were in the midst of investing in next-generation products and divesting non-core areas of focus like Dealer Services. So it was a transition period, which I thought would be a great time to join the company and lead through that exciting change.

Wow, that’s a fabulous answer. What has your journey been since you got here?

Yeah, I joined the Corporate Strategy group. I was fortunate that I got to work on some big and exciting projects. One of the first projects I worked on—the one I’m the proudest of—was under the Obama administration when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidelines for how a company needs to report pay equity, which had become a very important issue.

At ADP, we started discussing how to enable our clients to comply with these changes in regulations. But really, what we needed to do was take a step back to make sure all our business units approached this cohesively. An interesting conversation came up about how ADP pays 1 out of 6 people in the United States, which meant we had a treasure trove of data regarding pay equity. Across a worker’s lifetime, we touch 90% of US workers in some way. We realized we had an opportunity to go further than meeting minimum compliance. We could offer our clients something above and beyond that.

An example of how a client could use that data would be if they wanted to expand into a new geography or enable a new kind of role for the first time. Often clients have questions like, “What do people make in this city for this role?” or, “Where are pay scales rising – both by geography and by roles?”

We had that data. We just needed to aggregate it and eliminate identifiable information.

Taking that data, we built analytics on top using AI and machine learning and provided dashboards for our clients to look at equity in a more comprehensive manner. So, not just like, “Hey, I need to fill out these forms,” but we looked at it with a feature focus: “In this geography, am I being competitive to the geography and this role?” What about diversity? “Am I being competitive across every diversity element?”

The product we developed was so different from anything that was on the market at that point. For two years, we won product awards for that offering. And what excited me was that this wasn’t a client “ask” of ADP. We took the initiative to serve our clients in a way they hadn’t thought of or expected. Those are the type of opportunities that I’m excited about here at ADP.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a couple of high-impact projects that are cross-functional and span multiple business units. That really excites me, too.

What roles have mentors and or sponsors played in your career as you’ve navigated your journey here at ADP?

Yeah, I would say a couple of things. One was pretty early in my journey here, when I worked on some of these massive cross-business unit opportunities. There’s no way I would have been successful or have a successful team without having these mentors and sponsors who could get me deeper into the requirements for each of the different business units. They helped me understand how the business units were structured and how I could best use the resources we have here at ADP. Mentors, specifically, have played a significant role in my ability to succeed in these huge projects.

I’ll use my current role in digital transformation as an example in terms of having a sponsor. I was coming back from my second maternity leave and trying to figure out my future at ADP. Don Weinstein, who was my manager in my strategy role, was the one who brought up the GPT role where I ended up. I’ve been in this role for the last two and a half years. Sponsors have played an important role in making me aware of various opportunities, or in this case, creating an opportunity for me. So that’s been quite good, I’d say.

Have you ever been a mentor for someone else?

Yes, definitely. I’ll give one specific example. There was an associate who worked with me on a couple of different projects. I thought she was fantastic. She wanted to get broader experience outside of the United States. I was able to talk her through her options and give her some feedback on how to think about positioning and opportunities. Now, she’s in Europe in her next role, which she loves, and with a team who absolutely loves her too. So, that’s one example of mentoring, but I have had a couple of other opportunities. Each of them has been very exciting.

With most organizations still working remotely due to the pandemic, how are you staying connected with your teams and keeping everyone motivated?

Obviously, 2020 and 2021 have been very challenging. What’s resonated well, silly maybe, but we’ve exchanged a lot of memes and jokes. Our WebEx Teams rollout helped us keep in touch through instant messaging and made that easier.

On the serious side, our Senior leadership team has always had monthly check-ins. We’ve made them more robust. So, it’s not just about updates on specific products. We added more white space to focus on the “water cooler” talk. Things like casual problem solving, “Hey, we have these dependencies, what do you think?” or, “Hey, I’m kind of stuck on this one thing. Have you guys solved this before?”

I think we’ve also done a pretty good job of including some social aspects during these meetings. We’ve had happy hours, and that’s been pretty great…and enjoyable. There have been happy hours where we’re looking out over a waterfront in Brazil in the background. Another positive, as weird as ’20-’21 has been, there’s been this sense of closeness. You’ve seen inside people’s homes. You’ve seen their pets and kids in the background. I feel that made us feel more connected and human, more so now than ever before.

Why do you think it’s a great time for people to join and a tech career?

If you think about all the different things going on right now in human capital management, supporting workers is an essential piece. Besides the pandemic and working remotely, base labor force changes make HCM an interesting and impactful place to be. We are truly impacting people’s lives in a positive way. That’s one big reason why being at ADP is exciting.

Then, within ADP, I would say that the transition that made me join is continuing and going into the next phase of that transition. We’re still doing work on our next-gen products, but we are also doing more work around analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), and such things as rolling out chatbots. As I keep working on these technologies, I try to reach out to the industry to understand the best practices. In some cases, I’ve come to realize that we are on the cutting edge with these technologies, pushing the boundaries and defining the best practices. I’m excited to come to work every day. I hope anybody joining would feel the same way.

How do you incorporate culture into your everyday work?

One of the biggest things that I’ve taken away from seeing how our CEO Carlos Rodrigues and the rest of the executive team works has been humility. That, and a feeling of equality, ensuring everybody’s voice is heard. That resonates with me a lot. I think that feeds through into our culture. Those things have always been a part of every team I’ve worked on.

It’s not only about a leader’s voice here. There’s no dictatorship. It has always been about listening to everybody’s voice and coming to a consensus. So, those qualities: humility and that feeling of equality, carry forward in all the work we do.

What’s your advice for anyone looking to pursue a career with ADP?

LOL, apply at tech.adp.com? Kidding aside, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love our experiences at ADP, and I would love to have more people engaged.

So, what does work-life balance mean to you? And how are you able to achieve that working here?

What work-life balance means to me is that you get your work done in the time that you have during the day without necessarily having to work 9 to 5 on somebody else’s schedule. As a mom of two young kids, I’ll give you an example that happened to me today. My child’s daycare had some heating problems, so they had to cancel daycare, and my daughter is at home. So, my husband and I traded off on the responsibility to watch her around our meeting schedules. I don’t know any other company where I could tell my team and my manager, “Hey, guys, I just need to be flexible for the next couple of hours,” and have an outpouring of support with things like: “What we can do?”, “Yes, absolutely,” “Happy to move things.”

Managing my schedule and having flexibility means a lot to me. It’s not to say you don’t get things done that need to get done. You still do that. It means when things come up, there is an understanding and the ability to be flexible. That’s really important to me.

I think that’s super important for many people right now, just based on what’s happening globally. Great story. Do you belong to any Business Resource Groups (BRGs)? Which ones?

I belong to several BRGs. One I’d love to talk about is Women in Leadership (WIL) and the access it gives me. When I was doing this pay equity work, I reached out to a bunch of folks through the WIL network to get some feedback on specific user screens that we were putting inside our product.

The BRG gave me exposure to senior leaders, who manage hundreds, if not thousands, of people at a time. To get feedback from them as users and hear them answer the question, “What would you do as a manager?” was really powerful. That’s a tactical example of where a BRG was helpful in my work. More broadly, especially in today’s world, BRGs are an excellent resource for making connections. They organize all kinds of events, virtual for now, to keep people connected. Recently, our Women in Leadership BRG had a virtual event focused on resilience. They brought in a Peloton trainer (Robin Arzon) who was a motivational speaker. Super inspiring. I find it energizing to learn from people I might not work with every day.

What’s your favorite thing about where you work?

It’s definitely the people. In today’s world, I miss walking into someone’s office when I have a question. That’s changed in the virtual world, but we still do it, just in a different way. The thing I love is still the people that I work with and the trust we have. We’re there for one another—and that’s special.

Explore tech careers at ADP on tech.adp.com.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Future of UX Design at ADP: Making Life Simpler for Everyone.


Senior Leaders, UX Design, Career Journey

Future of UX Design at ADP: Making Life Simpler for Everyone

“In my interview with our Chief Product Officer…it was clear that I would be part of a leadership team that truly supports one another and that the support extends across ADP.”

From engineering to design, Kevin Mackie has had an extensive career in leadership. Our new VP of UX Design System started programming at 12 years old, working his way up the ladder to engineering management. There, he discovered his love of User Experience (UX) and how it helped him “probe into the problem space” before looking for solutions. Now he’s combining everything he’s learned for a new challenge: building a design system at scale. Below, he shares what attracted him to ADP, his plan to align his multidisciplinary team, and how he’s moving UX design forward for large enterprises.

Tell us about the highlights of your career so far. What brought you to UX design?

Each weekend when I was 12 years old, my neighbor, a programmer for the U.S. Navy, would bring home a 27-pound portable for me to play games on. He began teaching me to program, and I got addicted, later completing a degree in computer science. About 20 years ago, I started working my way up the leadership ladder, and by 2011, I was running a global engineering team at Taleo.

One day, the VP of product management brought in a UX expert to talk to the design team, and walking past their conference room, I saw an explosion of Post-it notes. I was so intrigued that I asked if I could crash their party, and that’s how I learned how to do user research in the field and turn it into insights. While engineers and software developers love to jump into the solution space—which often leaves us solving the wrong problem—this introduction to UX showed me the possibilities for probing into the problem space instead.

I started leading UX teams in 2014 when my former general manager unexpectedly asked me to join CA Technologies as the VP of Design, and that’s when I really fell in love with UX. Recently, though, I began feeling the need for a change. “I’ve led engineering teams globally at scale; I’ve led design teams globally at scale,” I said to myself. “How can I leverage the experiences of doing both?” Clearly, the universe listened because ADP called shortly after Thanksgiving to ask if I’d be interested in leading their design system.

What made you want to join ADP?

Usually, I’m the one trying to convince leadership about the value of a design system. But in my interview with our Chief Product Officer, he was the one who articulated its importance to me. That showed me I’d be joining a team committed to improving the experiences we deliver to our employees, our customers, and particularly their employees—our end users. It was also clear that I would be part of a leadership team that truly supports one another and that the support extends across ADP.

My intuition paid off on day one. I joined as we’re building a small coalition to focus on UX. After the announcement introducing me went out, people flooded my inbox with welcome messages and offers of help. I’ve never experienced that reaction at a new company before. There’s also an entire ethos around playing to each employee’s strengths to build a great overall team. No one hired me to fix anything; I’m here to complement the leadership team. ADP is a great place if you want to be part of an organization invested in helping you grow.

What’s your approach to building ADP’s design system?

What I love about UX as a discipline is how diverse we are—most of us did not go to school for graphic design. So, I know this sounds right out of a management book, but I’m starting with the “people” part of “people, processes, and products.” I’m about halfway through the one-on-ones I set up with each of my team members to understand their products and their specific journeys. I’ve talked to people who started off in music, building architecture, or went from chemical engineering to design. Tapping into these individual perspectives can help us better understand our problems and develop some really creative solutions.

We’re approaching the design system as a separate product. Developing a shared language about what makes a great experience is part of the transformation. Instead of building something we think our designers and developers need, we’re partnering with them, so when we deliver the design system, the teams will already be on board.

When it comes to philosophical alignment, the best approach is empathy. Not only empathy for the product managers and developers but empathy for our own work. The more we appreciate and understand the motivations and challenges of others, the better we can work together as a high-performing, cross-functional team. I encourage people to have healthy disagreements and act as influencers who can go back to their teams and bring everyone along on the journey.

What is most challenging about your work?

It’s challenging to build a design system at scale in a company of more than 58,000 people. Thankfully, with the large number of UX professionals throughout ADP, we’re not starting from scratch. My team’s job is to take already great work to the next level—it’s like we’re a group of conductors from different orchestras, asking how we make the whole thing come together.

A lot of it comes down to transparency and alignment on what’s working and what’s not. To do that, we need to measure the usability of our apps and define whether someone has a good or bad experience. For example, our ADP Mobile app has a 4.7 rating with more than 1.5 million reviews in the App store. Even so, usability studies show us people sometimes hover over the submit button for minutes, likely out of uncertainty about their selections. So, how do we give them the type of “confidence experience” so that they can review their choice and say, “Yes, that’s what I want,” and click without hesitation?

We’re also figuring out the right things to measure. Successful consumer-grade applications always measure how long it takes someone to do something and prompts them for feedback. So how do we incorporate more feedback into our products? Since I recently got my ADP account, it thinks I’m a new user. Thirty seconds after searching for the first time, I got a nice pop-up asking, “How did you like the search experience?” Then after I answered, I got a second prompt asking, “Would you like to tell us why?” I thought that was a great way to get feedback in the moment.

What does the future hold for you and ADP?

First, we’ve got a pretty clear vision of the future that we’ll continue to refine. Whether it’s a frontend developer, a designer, or the product team with limited UX resources, our goal is to get our teams on board. We want to make it easier for them to deliver better experiences faster to make life easier for our users. After all, business owners don’t wake up in the morning because they want to run payroll software. They started a company because they have a dream. And we’re here to help them realize that dream by making payroll, benefits, and compensation easier for them.

We have the unique ability to learn from what’s working at small, medium, and large businesses. There’s no reason why we can’t deliver consumer-grade experiences at an enterprise level. Whether you’re an employee of a five-person organization or a 1-million-person organization, you still want to understand your compensation. You still want to grow professionally. I joined ADP specifically because we’re committed to putting in the work to help simplify life for everyone. When our clients come back to us and say, “Oh yeah, this product is great. It enables our business,” I’ll know things are humming.

Curious about a career in UX? Check tech.adp.com for our current openings.

Kevin Mackie is a Vice President, UX Design Systems at ADP based in California.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Podcast: Fireside chat with Don Weinstein, CVP, Global Product & Development on his career and the latest tech happenings at ADP


Career Path, Fireside Chat, Latest Tech

ADP Technologist, Nik Palmer, hosts an engaging chat with our Global Product & Techology leader, Don Weinstein, and the executive sponsor for our Generations Business Resource Group. Don chats about his career path and gives some advice. He also shares the latest tech happenings at ADP, machine learning, and our evolving products. The Generations BRG focuses on creating connections between emerging and established professionals.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People

[NICK PALMER] Howdy and welcome to the GENcast podcast. My name is Nick Palmer and I will be your host for this episode with Don Weinstein, Chief Product and Technology Officer here. Don is also the Executive Sponsor of Generations.

His role is somewhat unique as most companies separate product and technology. And what’s also interesting is that Don has a background in aerospace engineering and consulting prior to coming to ADP to work in corporate strategy and technology. Don, welcome, and thanks for sitting down with us.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thanks, Nick. It’s great to be here.

[NICK PALMER] So to get started, let’s find out a little bit about you and tell us a little bit about what generation you identify with most closely and what are your standout roles.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Great question. I’m Generation X through and through. I do like from time to time looking at those different examples about the– or the differences in the different generations. And the one that always stuck out to me with Generation X being kind of a sandwich generation.

Stuck in between the boomers and the millennials is just kind of being the pragmatists in the room and figuring out how we help move things forward and make progress and maybe less about it was stuck between the me generation and the we generation before and after us.

[NICK PALMER] Building bridges versus building walls.

[DON WEINSTEIN] I like that. I hadn’t heard that, but I’ll quote you on that going forward. It’s really about just again, not trying that overly call attention to ourselves as a generation as much as just moving things forward. I was going to say, my top two stand out roles are advisor provider, which I was told was a somewhat unusual combination, but that’s all I know.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met one of those yet. So that’s interesting. So tell us a little bit about some technology happenings here at ADP. If our listeners haven’t had a chance to listen to your recent HRExaminer executive podcast with John Sumser, we’ll make sure that we put a link up there and encourage them to take a listen.

In that podcast, you cover some excellent material there about how ADP is addressing diversity and inclusion via our products and our client services, most of which is just given away for free. Can you share a little bit about the GTP diversity and inclusion strategy and its intended impact for both clients and associates?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be glad to. And I think the first thing to peel back on is this isn’t some new idea that just came to us because of obviously what’s been happening, the increased focus we’ve seen based in large part on the recent tragic incidents with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which I think have created a renewed focus on the problems and the challenges that diversity has and that we have with diversity as a country and in particular in the workplace.

So I am glad for that renewed focus. But this is something we’ve been thinking about for and working on for a while. I’d point you back to, it was 2016 when we launched our Pay Equity Explorer and actually was recognized as an awesome new technology for 2016 by HR Executive Magazine the HR Tech Conference.

And in particular, what made the Pay Equity Explorer great or an awesome new technology is it took this long founded challenge that we know about, disparities and discrimination and pay practices in the workplace, and took a new angle to it where we could leverage ADP’s vast treasure trove of data so we could understand industry benchmarks, both outside an organization, as well as inside an organization, and in addition to which we can apply machine learning algorithms to help identify not just– you see the classic studies that say, OK, in this context, women get paid 82 cents on the dollar.

It’s a constantly moving benchmark so I don’t remember what the latest is. But that was a relatively recent one. And it’s important. And it’s important to know. But it’s not actionable. OK. So what do I do about it? More importantly, where do I get started?

And so the Pay Equity Explorer was able to break that down using machine learning to crawl through a client’s data and identify very specific, this individual in this job relative to this internal and external market benchmark is being underpaid by this exact amount and here’s how you can take care of that.

And I think that was a real breakthrough in terms of attacking that problem. And we looked at that across all dimensions. We looked at it by gender, we looked at it by race, we looked at it by ethnicity, because trying to get multi-dimensional on the problem.

And that was really just the first such example. We followed that up with a couple of more products, one of which we focused on including a little about diversity and inclusion and inclusiveness. We’ve been very focused on accessibility in our products.

And I’m talking about making content more accessible in particular for folks who may be visually impaired or other types of impairments that would prevent them from being able to access their normal workplace tools.

So our core application, My ADP, that’s used by employees and managers, as well as our ADP mobile application, we’ve been embedded enhanced usability and accessibility controls. We’ve been doing that for years. I’m actually trying to remember when we started. It’s been so long that we’ve been at that I couldn’t I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head, but it’s been a while.

[NICK PALMER] I know I’ve supported AudioEye for a while now.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly. AudioEye as a partner, we’ve worked with on both to consult with us on how to design our products to make them more accessible, and then they have plug-ins that handle all different types of impairments and get us beyond level two on the web content accessibility guidelines.

And those are just a couple of examples. I could drone on forever. You probably don’t want me to. We’re continuing to push the ball forward. We had a couple of things in the works. We’re working on some new diversity inclusiveness dashboards with our data cloud team to give clients better analytics about what they’re doing, multiple different metrics around– you’ll get the entire talent lifecycle.

Are we recruiting diverse talent pools? How are we rewarding? How are we retaining? How are we promoting? And taking all of that through a D and I lens. We’ve kind of already started working on that next iteration when obviously the external environment kicked it up a notch in terms of our priority level.

And you had asked the question not only from an external angle but also from an internal angle. So I’m super excited that we’ve been able to partner with our internal ADP D and I team, in particular Aisha who is our Chief Diversity Officer, to have ADP be client number one for any and all new products that we want to push in this area.

And actually have been having great success with Sreeni Kutam about making ADP client number one for any of our enterprise HR products. And diversity inclusiveness is just the latest example that we’re putting a lot of energy into right now.

[NICK PALMER] As we move from a service company to a technology company, it’s interesting to see that dynamic come into play and adoption of that agile startup mentality of using what we build internally. That’s awesome. So, tell us a little bit about your path towards executive leadership and how that shaped your approach towards management of people and product.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’ve had somewhat of a circuitous path. You pointed out in the intro that I was an aerospace engineer by training. I started my career at General Electric. And I was working in the satellite telecommunications side of the house.

So I worked on such projects as the Dish Network and GPS. So if you’re using Waze on your way home at some point or the next time you’re in the car, you’re welcome. And truthfully, a lot of people worked on that project. You can imagine I was just one of many really brilliant and talented folks who did that.

But it was fun. It was an exciting place to start a career. But how I got from there to the payroll and HCM industry, it was not a linear trajectory whatsoever. I was bought, sold, merged, acquired six different times in my first several years. GE at some point decided to get out of that business.

They sold it to Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta merged with the Lockheed Company, became Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin shut down the facility I was working at. There were 5,000 people there when I started. And I was the 10th to last to walk out the door and shut the place down.

And now it’s just an industrial brownfield site that’s been sitting there unoccupied for 20 plus years, which is kind of sad. What I learned in some of that– first thing, so, coming out of that, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

So what do you do when you’re a 20-something engineer and you don’t know what to do with the rest of your life? I went back to school and got an MBA. And then when I finished up my MBA, I still don’t know what I wanted to do with myself?

So what do you do when you’re an overeducated 20-something who doesn’t know what to do? You go into consulting and tell other people what to do. I don’t know what to do with my life, but let me tell you what to do with yours.

Consulting was a good experience for me in that up until that point, I had only known one industry, one business, and one functional area. So it really helped me broaden myself out. And I think if there’s one or two takeaways I could take away from that experience, it’s I had the opportunity to work in a lot of different industries on a lot of different problems, and having that cross-functional type of experience I think was useful.

Even starting my career at GE, they really encourage some rotational type assignments. I have noticed within ADP, we probably don’t do that as much as other organizations. Also I made a stop at IBM for several years. And we used to joke at IBM, it stood for I’ve Been Moved.

But at ADP, I think we have folks who tend to spend more time in one area. And it’s great for developing deep expertise in that area. And some of the stuff that we do, you have to be pretty deep and expert to do it.

But I think also we can benefit and folks can benefit from taking that kind of side step rotational assignment to learn about the business through another lens and then come back. It’s something I’ve been encouraging within my technology organization now. Really, two things.

One is getting more rotations within technology, including on my leadership team. So the simple way we think about it is I’ve got the applications side of the house, as you said, the product side. And then the traditional infrastructure, the technology side.

So we’ve been rotating people within products, moving from one product, maybe moving from a shared product like our identity management or reporting solution into a market facing product like RUN or Workforce Now or something like that.

Gives people a different perspective. Moving between the application side and the infrastructure side of the house. So we’ve done a handful of rotations there. And I think we’ll do some more. And also encouraging bi-directional folks from the technology organization to roll out into business type roles and vise versa.

Folks who are in the different sides of the business who have interests or an aptitude for technology to come do a tour of duty in the technology world and then go back to their functional areas with a greater appreciation for what we’re doing here.

It’s something, like I said, I was able to benefit and take advantage of early on in my career. And I think that’s something that I’m trying to encourage others at least within my scope of influence in GPT to take advantage of as well. Does that make sense?

[NICK PALMER] Yes, it does. That’s great. I think that I’m going to quote you on the merged, bought, sold, and acquired. Yeah. One of the things that you said in there that was particularly interesting was about that tour of duty in rotation.

And that’s something that I’d like to make sure that we’ve heard is covered again and mentioned again because that’s something that we’ve heard from our membership, saying how should I approach the career path and moving forward?

Should I jump around and try lots of different things? Or should I stick and go deep expertise? And I’ve obviously stuck and done the deep expertise side of things. But I tell people all the time, jumping around and gaining a broad perspective, that’s also equally valid.

They are opposite sides of the same coin. And as long as you’re holding that coin and paying attention to it, either one can afford you great insight and knowledge and career path opportunity. So thanks for sharing the opposite side of the coin from what I typically do.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, and if I could just put a nuance on that, I like to think about it as a major and a minor. Because I wouldn’t want to create the false expectation. I think too much jumping around, also a bad thing, right? I think you need to stay long enough in an area to develop a certain level of depth and expertise.

And that’s it. That’s your major. And then when you have that depth of expertise in a certain area, then when you go out into another area, you may be a novice in that new found area, but you can be valuable to the folks there because you bring the expertise about something else that they don’t know about.

So for instance, do a typical one again in my area, is if I’ve got somebody who’s super knowledgeable about infrastructure and then they go do a rotational assignment on the app side of the house, they may not know everything there is to know about app development, but they can bring to that team their richness and depth of experience on infrastructure that is going to be beneficial to the team.

And then potentially, like I said, not then move on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. But do that as sort of like a side step and then come back to infrastructure and be a better infrastructure engineer because you understand more now how the application that your infrastructure is supporting.

So a little different than saying jump around as much as you do a sidestep, come back. Maybe apply what you learned. Maybe do another one, come back. So I think it’s useful for somebody to have a major. I’ll tell you, my life experience, as I said, I started out as an engineer. Spent several years in engineering.

Coming out of engineering, I went into consulting and I got to apply that in a bunch of different areas. Then I did some work in strategy. Came back to product. Then I came to ADP. Well, did a long tenure in project management.

Went out to strategy. So I was a Chief Strategy Officer for a couple of years. Came back to GPT. So not floating all over the place, but sidestep, come back, sidestep, come back, learn a new skill, come back and apply it kind of model, if that makes sense.

[NICK PALMER] Right, and I think how I would encapsulate that nuance that you’re talking about is you have to do the tour of duty. You have to learn something, not be a tourist and jump around. So there is a difference in terms of your depth and understanding that you gain in a tour of duty versus just being a tourist to a new location.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Very well said, yes.

[NICK PALMER] So let’s get into the big elephant in the room. One of the biggest hurdles we had in late FY 20 was the rapid change to remote work modality. The business continuity team recently discussed this undertaking in their internal webinar.

And you talk about the international effort in depth on the HRExaminer podcast. The company saw some wonderful productivity engagement through the process. And as associates continue to work remotely and some areas slowly begin the process of returning to the office, what kinds of productivity and technology challenges do you see arising?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, it’s a good question. And something we’re thinking a lot about these days, of course. The first thing I observed is as we moved everybody remote, there was this certainly surge of connectivity going on that causes a lot of technical challenges. And now we’re keen thinking already ahead to like, what the year end is going to look like and is that going to be another surge.

But the productivity question is I think the one that’s even more interesting because you see different views out there and different scenarios about, well, are we more productive in a remote setting or are we less productive? That’s a question that comes up from time to time. And I’ll share just a couple of dynamics.

And these are anecdotes that I’m observing. I don’t claim to have the full settled science on is work from home more or less productive yet. But the one thing I noticed is in the past where we had most folks working in an office and then a minority working from home, I thought it was hard to be in that subset minority of folks who weren’t in the office, versus when everybody is remote, it seems like, if you’re having a meeting and there’s 12 people in the meeting and nine of them are in the room and then three are on the phone or the video, you’d see that the folks who were on the phone or the video, every once in a while somebody was like, oh, stop, wait.

Folks on the phone, do you have anything to add? Because it almost becomes an afterthought. Whereas when everybody’s remote, I actually think it makes that aspect of it work a little bit better. But now that we’re talking about reopening, and by the way, just for full disclosure, I’m in sitting in Roseland right now because part of the very first wave of US pilots, Roseland was the first office and I was in the first cohort of folks who raised my hand and said, sure, I’ll come back into the office.

So I’m in Roseland right now. But some of our offices around outside the US have already started to open up. Shanghai was the first and a handful in Europe as well. But I think it’s a challenge when you’re in this partial hybrid state, right? So if everybody’s remote, I think the collaboration works better.

And in particular getting more voices heard. But when some folks are remote and some folks are in the office and you have this partial stasus going, I’m not sure that that works as well. And that’s something that we have to be very mindful of as we hopefully at some point start to transition back.

And the second thing I’d point out is where we have mature teams of people, I’ve got a mature team of folks, they’ve been working together for a while, they know each other, they’ve been working on their products for a while, they know the products. I think those teams going remote were capable of doing so.

And it was almost a seamless transition. Now we’re at the point, it’s July, and this is the time of year when we have our new college grads start showing up. So I’ve got close to 100, I’ve got 150 total who will be showing up here over the next several months. And so the ability to onboard and assimilate those new hires into the company– so first they have to learn about the company, about the products, about the other team members.

For most of them, it’s going to be their first real work experience. And the ability to manage through that in a remote setting I think is a little bit trickier. And it’s one that I don’t know that we’ve cracked the code on, but we’re mindful of now that we’re going through a virtual onboard process.

So I think those are some real challenges that we need to be really taking seriously here the longer that this stretches out. I don’t know what that would be like to onboard as a brand new, fresh out of college graduate, my first real job, my first company, and I’m remote for six months. Nobody knows. I mean, I saw Google came out and announced they’re going to be remote at least till next summer. Not saying that they’re right, but it just shows you where things are moving.

[NICK PALMER] Yeah, the vision is definitely down the road as opposed to next week or next month.

[DON WEINSTEIN] That’s right. Definitely doesn’t feel like it’s around the corner.

[NICK PALMER] And I think the key thing, though, that you bring up is that we’re mindful of it. We’re aware that this is a potential issue. And unless we are aware of it, we can’t really do anything about it. So it’s good to hear that we’re paying attention and monitoring, even if we don’t have all the answers right now. We’re closely watching and observing to see what those answers might become and reveal.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly.

[NICK PALMER] So in terms of that, how do you see the business resource groups and Generations playing a role in this remote and hybrid environment?

[DON WEINSTEIN] It’s a great question. It’s an important one. And I’ll go back to the beginning of my career and tie that into why I always felt so passionate about Generations and the work you all are doing here. And that is that I felt like I did have a good onboarding experience when I first started my career back at GE.

Again, I came in as a brand new, fresh faced engineer right out of college and got to work on some pretty complex stuff. But I was lucky to really have– and this gets the spirit of Generations. We brought people in together as a class. So we had a cohort of people I came with, that I bonded with, and some of whom are still my closest friends to this day. So I had a lot of peer interaction and learning through it together.

And then we had senior level mentoring. And I remember a couple of mentors in particular who really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes a little bit and helped me really accelerate my career by being able to learn from the wisdom of some of the folks who had been there together and enjoy the camaraderie aspect of being part of a group of people and not feeling like I was at it alone.

It’s one of the things we’ve tried to bring to, as I mentioned, and we called our GPT Development Program when we onboard the new college graduates. We bring them in as a class and try and create that spirit. And we assign them mentors from within the broader organization. And as I look at where we are as an organization right now in terms of moving folks out of the office remote, I think it’s been about 20 or so weeks here in the US since we went to remote work.

And again, I know there was this initial surge of productivity because people were certainly, we had a lot of work to do as we were responding to various aspects of the COVID crisis from a regulatory or compliance aspect. And there was just the change element there, I’d say, almost like a mini little euphoria.

I’m speaking for myself now. I’ve been coming into an office for 30 years and I never really had an opportunity to work from home for any kind of extended period. So it was just different. You get a little bit of an, I’ll call it an adrenaline rush.

But I’ve seen and I’ve also read some interesting articles by others about how that phenomenon played out in a number of different organizations. But after that initial adrenaline rush, now we’re settling in for the long haul. And how do we keep folks engaged?

How do we avoid burnout in a world where if you’re like me, the whole work life balance, whatever it was went away because I wake up and get my first cup of coffee and, boom, I’m right at it. And then I just keep going all day, all night. That’s not a recommendation or a lifestyle tip, but it makes it harder.

And so there is some notion that the longer this drags on, the current scenario, you’re worried about either, you’re worried about burnout, you’re worried about fatigue factors, you’re worried about people losing engagement, losing connectivity to their team or to their organization.

And so I think the work that business resource groups do is probably more critical now in this type of environment than ever before in terms of creating a sense of affinity and shared purpose with people who have common interests and common objectives that span organization or function or job, but rather say, we have connectivity at a purpose level here.

And so I’m thankful that our ADP, that our HR organization had the foresight to start us down this path several years ago. And we’ve got this kind of infrastructure in place now today. Because I believe it’s critical to helping folks navigate the current crisis from a personal work life relationship aspect.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time here today. And I wanted to thank you personally for your guidance and suggestions for the Generations Group. I know that we are looking forward to an amazing FY 21.

One of the things when we connect and we talk about is books and self-improvement that we’re undertaking currently. So would you like to leave the Generations members any suggestions on what you’ve been reading or studying lately?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’ll just share with you what I’ve been reading. I don’t know how helpful it is. But I’ve become quite a big fan of this– is an academic, a historian at Oxford, Yuval Noah Harari.

He’s written a few books. Sapiens was a history of humankind. Homo Deus was a kind of a forward looking one. And the current book that he’s got out there is called 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. And it couldn’t, in my opinion, couldn’t be more timely.

It was sort of a little dark, if I would offer, and maybe it’s in keeping with the times. It’s funny, he published it before the pandemic or some of the unrest that we’re seeing happen. But seems to have a little bit of– seemed a little prescient in that.

But I can skip you through some of it because there are like 20 chapters like, yep, that’s where we’re at. That’s not working, that’s not working, that’s not working. And I get to the end, I’m like what’s the answer? So what do we do? And his only answer is meditate.

[NICK PALMER] I’m a big fan of those books. I would recommend them to all of our Generations members. I know we’ve shared a couple of those in previous quarterly book roundups. So thanks for the plug on those.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Absolutely. This is the generation that’s going to carry us forward. So meditating and being a little contemplate, not the worst idea right now.

[NICK PALMER] Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time today. And we will look forward to having you back sometime in the future.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thank you. My 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.

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AI and Data Ethics: 5 Principles to Consider

As organizations develop their own internal ethical practices and countries continue to develop legal requirements, we are at the beginning of determining standards for ethical use of data and artificial intelligence (AI).

In the past 20 years, our ability to collect, store, and process data has dramatically increased. There are exciting new tools that can help us automate processes, learn things we couldn’t see before, recognize patterns, and predict what is likely to happen. Since our capacity to do new things has developed quickly, the focus in tech has been primarily on what we can do. Today, organizations are starting to ask what’s the right thing to do.

This is partly a global legal question as countries implement new requirements for the use and protection of data, especially information directly or indirectly connected to individuals. It’s also an ethical question as we address concerns about bias and discrimination, and explore concerns about privacy and a person’s rights to understand how data about them is being used.

What is AI and Data Ethics?

Ethical use of data and algorithms means working to do the right thing in the design, functionality, and use of data in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

It’s evaluating how data is used and what it’s used for, considering who does and should have access, and anticipating how data could be misused. It means thinking through what data should and should not be connected with other data and how to securely store, move, and use it. Ethical use considerations include privacy, bias, access, personally identifiable information, encryption, legal requirements and restrictions, and what might go wrong.

Data Ethics also means asking hard questions about the possible risks and consequences to people whom the data is about and the organizations who use that data. These considerations include how to be more transparent about what data organizations have and what they do with it. It also means being able to explain how the technology works, so people can make informed choices on how data about them is used and shared.

Why is Ethics Important in HR Technology?

Technology is evolving fast. We can create algorithms that connect and compare information, see patterns and correlations, and offer predictions. Tools based on data and AI are changing organizations, the way we work, and what we work on. But we also need to be careful about arriving at incorrect conclusions from data, amplifying bias, or relying on AI opinions or predictions without thoroughly understanding what they are based on.

We want to think through what data goes into workplace decisions, how AI and technology affect those decisions, and then come up with fair principles for how we use data and AI.

What Are Data Ethics Principles?

Ethics is about acknowledging competing interests and considering what is fair. Ethics asks questions like: What matters? What is required? What is just? What could possibly go wrong? Should we do this?

In trying to answer these questions, there are some common principles for using data and AI ethically.

  1. Transparency – This includes disclosing what data is being collected, what decisions are made with the assistance of AI, and whether a user is dealing with bots or humans. It also means being able to explain how algorithms work and what their outputs are based on. That way, we can evaluate the information they give us against the problems we’re trying to solve. Transparency also includes how we let people know what data an organization has about them and how it is used. Sometimes, this includes giving people an opportunity to have information corrected or deleted.
  2. Fairness – AI doesn’t just offer information. Sometimes it offers opinions. This means we have to think through how these tools and the information they give us are used. Since data comes from and concerns humans, it’s essential to look for biases in what data is collected, what rules are applied, and what questions are asked of the data. For example, if you want to increase diversity in hiring, you don’t want to only rely on tools that tell you who has been successful in your organization in the past. This information alone would likely give you more of the same rather than more diversity. While there is no way to completely eliminate bias in tools created by and about people, we need to understand how the tools are biased so we can reduce and manage the bias and correct for it in our decision making.
  3. Accuracy – The data used in AI should be up to date and accurate. And there needs to be ways to correct it. Data should also be handled, cleaned, sorted, connected, and shared with care to retain its accuracy. Sometimes taking data out of context can make it appear misleading or untrue. So accuracy depends partly on whether the data is true, and partly on whether it makes sense and is useful based on what we are trying to do or learn.
  4. Privacy – Some cultures believe that privacy is part of fundamental human rights and dignity. An increasing number of privacy laws around the globe recognize privacy rights in our names and likeness, financial and medical records, personal relationships, homes, and property. We are still working out how to balance privacy and the need to use so much personal data. Law makers have been more comfortable allowing broader uses of anonymized data than data where you know, or can easily discover, who it’s about. But as more data is collected and connected, questions arise about how to maintain that anonymity. Other privacy issues include security of the information and what people should know about who has data about them and how its used.
  5. Accountability – This is not just compliance with global laws and regulations. Accountability is also about the accuracy and integrity of data sources, understanding and evaluating risks and potential consequences of developing and using data and AI, and implementing processes to make sure that new tools and technologies are created ethically.

As organizations develop their own internal ethical practices and countries continue to develop legal requirements, we are at the beginning of determining standards for ethical use of data and AI.

ADP is already working on its AI and data ethics, through establishing an AI and Data Ethics Board and developing ethical principles that are customized to ADP’s data, products and services. Next in our series on AI and Ethics, we will be talking to each of ADP’s AI and Data Ethics Board members about ADP’s guiding ethical principles and how ADP applies those principles to its design, processes, and products.

Read our position paper, “ADP: Ethics in Artificial Intelligence,” found in the first blade underneath the intro on the Privacy at ADP page.

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Jeff standing at the back of a boat with arms spread wide

I’m a start-up founder and angel investor, and here’s why you should consider a tech career at ADP

Tech & Innovation Blog

I’m a start-up founder and angel investor, and here’s why you should consider a tech career at ADP


Voice of Our People, Why ADP, Workmarket

We recently caught up with Jeff Wald, angel investor, and President and Co-Founder of ADP’s WorkMarket.

Jeff standing at the back of a boat with arms spread wide

We asked him why someone should consider a career in technology with ADP. Here’s what he said:

“What may have started life as a payroll company has transformed into one of the leading tech companies of the 21st century.”

When ADP acquired WorkMarket in 2018, a lot of our engineering and product associates were curious about how a ‘payroll company’ such as ADP aligned with WorkMarket, a cutting-edge start-up. It’s a fair (and expected) question, and one we continue to answer with ease as we seek the best and brightest in tech talent to join the ever-growing ADP team.

As part of the onboarding into ADP, WorkMarket associates quickly discovered the scale of ADP’s tech workforce and the market-leading technology the organization builds continuously. The WorkMarket team realized that ADP was the bridge between the cutting-edge nature of a tech start-up and the opportunity to have that technology utilized by hundreds of thousands of companies around the world.  It’s a scale that few companies can even imagine.

What may have started life as a payroll company has transformed into one of the leading tech companies of the 21st century. With a significant emphasis on how to provide a better experience for users utilizing the latest technology, such as machine learning, AI, and conversational UIs, ADP offers its product and engineering associates the excitement and leading-edge environment of a start-up.

At ADP, tech associates get to work for a company that knows security and scale better than anybody. You get to work with a massive team of 9,000 technologists around the world. You get to work with one of the largest business mobile apps in the world. You get to be a part of a team that is moving trillions (yes, trillions) of dollars around the globe.  In fact, ADP has built the largest business app ecosystem, ADP Marketplace, where ADP is the connection point for hundreds of companies to interface with hundreds of thousands of clients.

Our collaborative environment also means your opportunity is limitless. As a technology associate joining ADP, you can widen your purview beyond your specialization, and have the chance to exchange knowledge with the thousands of other technologists at ADP.

And it’s not just about the technology.  It’s not an understatement to say that since WorkMarket joined ADP in 2018, I’ve been blown away by how truly partnership-oriented the people are here. The culture and environment at ADP are incredible! Highly mentorship-oriented, you can learn as much as you are willing to take in. There are always people ready to help you at ADP and opportunities to expand your skills and relationship base. This, combined with ADP’s cutting-edge technology and sheer size, means that if you want to work with a company that has the breadth and scope of opportunities to influence the world, ADP is that place.

Jeff WaldThere are only a handful of technology giants that are truly changing the world, and there are only so many companies on earth where the things you build touch tens of millions of people. Where you create something that substantially impacts the way we live.  You know the names of those other tech giants, but you may not have known ADP was one of them. We are just getting started! Join us on this journey.

Jeff Wald is a President and Co-Founder of ADP’s WorkMarket and the author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. He is based in New York City.

Tech & Innovation Blog

ADP Leaders Make Top 100 HR Tech Influencers List


HR Tech Influencers, Senior Leaders, Recognition

With an eye on innovation and transformation, two ADP leaders have once again earned a coveted spot on the second annual Top 100 HR Tech Influencers list released by Human Resource Executive®.

2020 Top 100 HR Tech Influencers

Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham


Don Weinstein

Don Weinstein

That’s right. For the second year in a row, Marcus Buckingham, Senior Vice President and Co-Head of the ADP Research Institute, and Don Weinstein, Corporate Vice President for Global Product & Technology at ADP, have made this list. The list includes leading thinkers from across a wide variety of business functions – executives, advisors, consultants, analysts, implementers, and many more. ADP is one of just a handful of companies to have more than one influencer on the list.

Across the board, this collective group was heavily evaluated on a wide range of criteria and measured on their record of influence amongst Human Resource (HR) organizations. The individuals on the  HR Tech Influencers list have a high reputation for unique strategies, innovative solutions, and bring a positive influence on today’s HR-tech marketplace.

Join us in celebrating and honoring both Marcus and Don on making this list for the second year in a row. Their contributions towards innovation continue to propel ADP’s transformation into one of today’s most forward-thinking technology companies.

Being on the list showcases our continued focus on developing innovative technology to help our clients when they need it most. According to Human Resource Executive, “The work that lies ahead will need the unique human touch that only HR can provide—and that approach can be magnified by the deployment of smart HR-technology solutions.”