It’s a new day, and a new day means new inspiration, and we promise you will not be disappointed. In episode five Tawana, VP of Implementation, shares her career journey, her mentorship and sponsorship connection with Debbie Dyson, President of National accounts at ADP, and being a Women in STEM. We also discuss the power of connection, whether it be with her global team or to balance with our relationships outside of ADP.
Narrator: [00:00:06] At ADP, we're always designing for people. Starting with our own. Life at ADP podcast will give you a look into our associate's stories, our culture, and our company.
Kate: [00:00:24] Hey everyone, this is your host, Kate, and I'm currently sitting in cold wintery New Jersey here and I'm joined by my co-host Ingrid. Hey, Ingrid
Ingrid: [00:00:36] Hey Kate, this is your partner in crime here reporting. How are you?
Kate: [00:00:41] I'm good. And how are you doing in Pasadena, California?
Ingrid: [00:00:46] I'm doing awesome. It's 82 degrees today, so can't complain.
Kate: [00:00:50] It's 82. Ok, so it is 39 degrees here. I'm booking a plane ticket and I'm coming to visit.
Ingrid: [00:00:59] Yeah, let's do it. Why not?
Kate: [00:01:02] So, Ingrid, we have made it to episode five, which is really remarkable considering we just launched in September. So, for any of our new joiners, we are the Life at ADP podcast, and we hope that you decide to stick around and join us as we roll out an episode about every month. This season, we will have a total of six episodes, so we have one left for the season that we will be releasing in January and then we'll be kicking off season two. So, make sure that you like and subscribe to our podcast on whatever platform you are currently listening to us. That way, you receive the little notification that says, Hey, there's a new episode out.
Ingrid: [00:01:49] Yes, Kate, I can't believe we already have five episodes. Wow. I mean, I'm just glad that that we're getting to episode six. You know, our final episode for season one. And then, of course, we're going to bring more guests and feature associates in season two. So definitely stay tuned. And for anyone who might be new listening, I just want to share super quick the reason behind Life at ADP. You know, the name might be self-explanatory, but the purpose is that we want to showcase the amazing associate stories that we have at ADP because again, our associates, it's what makes our culture great and amazing. So, we want to bring them into the podcast and have them talk about who they are and, you know, their career journey, progression and culture, our culture at ADP. So, with that today, we're actually talking with Tawana. I had the opportunity to interview Tawana in one of our videos in the past around the BRGs, our Business Resource Groups and Tawana has an amazing story at ADP, an amazing career progression. So we are featuring today, Tawana. And Tawana welcome, and why don't we start with you telling us a little bit about your career path and what attracted you to ADP?
Tawana: [00:03:17] Thank you so much, Kate and Ingrid. I really appreciate both of you and having the opportunity to share my career journey and a little bit about myself. So, I recently, when I first started looking for opportunities and an opportunity for me meant somewhere that I could grow. I had worked at large companies before I had worked at startups, and I knew that I needed a space where I could grow. I usually get bored after a couple of years. I need to grow and do different things, and I looked into ADP. ADP had bought a company that I had worked for a small time and attendance company years ago in California, and I remember ADP had purchased the company. So, I said, you know what? Let me look at ADP and ADP because it's national and international and all the different business units, I felt like it was a really good opportunity for me to get into a company, learn and grow. And my first opportunity came as a systems analyst. Actually, that's my background in the technology, and I knew that I needed to start somewhere. Although the job that I previously come from was in a leadership role, I knew I needed to kind of, you know, stake my startup, start somewhere small and grow and advance in the company. So, I started ADP in 2013 as a systems analyst and small business services, and it's interesting because that position allowed me to learn ADP technology, which I think was a great starting point for me because I understood what we were trying to do from a technology perspective. I was in that role for three years and got promoted.
Tawana: [00:04:50] I thought that was awesome because the opportunities were right there for you. Advancement is great. At ADP, I was able to get into the role, lead a team, lead an initiative and I got promoted. So, I was in that role for about three years, small business services, and I started feeling that it's again where we needed to do something different. I wanted to kind of grow. I was in, you know, one area of the business and there was so much more I wanted to learn. So, I started looking at opportunities and I was actually, to be honest with you, I was getting a little bit discouraged. I felt like because, you know, when you do well, sometimes in a role, people kind of see you as, that's your role, and they don't want you to move. I think I got myself stuck in that thing like, I'm doing so well here, what's the point? people were like why are you trying to leave? And it was really about just growing and growing my knowledge base, and I actually went to a speaker series. That's how I met, got involved in Cultivate BRG. I went to a speaker series on Grow Your Career, and that seemed like the person was talking directly to me, and it was like it was so timely for me because it taught me about expanding your brand. I never thought about expanding my brand at ADP. I was just really just thinking about what's the next thing I wanted to learn. And that meeting actually got me a mentor, and that mentor is the person who said, you know what? Just, you know, slow down, look around, find out what you want to do, really put some thought into the next area you want to be in? And let's talk later.
Tawana: [00:06:13] And I said, OK. And for some reason, I put my trust in this mentor. We had such a great connection, a great relationship. I stopped looking. I focused on six, you know, the next six months and really just learning ADP as a whole. And next thing I know six months later, I got a call from my mentor and said, you know what? I've been thinking about you, and I created a position in my business unit for you. Now that was just amazing for me to hear because this role was created for me based on just that mentorship and that relationship that I had built with her. And that just started a trajectory in my career that has taken me to where I am today. That position, again, was for three years. I stayed in global business transformation for three years. I learned again that that experience expanded my knowledge from just one area of the business and global business. You're working with all areas, not only just small business, national account, major accounts, you're working with international groups as well. So that got my name out there and it got me to understand different areas of the business. And for three years, that opportunity is really expanded my knowledge and my brand. And three years later, I was looking to relocate, I was in New Jersey, Don't miss the snow.
Tawana: [00:07:26] My son was getting older. I was thinking about trying to move, and so I asked if I could do my current position in Atlanta. I have been out here a few times for work and business had been to the Alpharetta office and I thought it was a good place for me and my son to move, you know, cost us living, better quality of life and that's kind of what I decided, she said. You know what? Like she did three years prior, she said, you know what? Give it a minute. Said, Okay. I trusted her the first time, and I'm going to trust her again. And a few months later, I got a call from a recruiter and said, hey, when can we schedule your interview for this VP role? And I said, Huh? The same thing did not apply, without even looking, you know, because I'm thinking that you have to go through the stages, right? director, senior director, you know, just do your, you know, move up the ladder and step. So, this was a significant jump for me at the time. And I said, when do you want me to start? And I started that interview process. I sent her a note and said, hey, I just got a call. She said, hey, listen, I just put your name out there now. You have to go get it. And I got it. So, I've been at ADP for seven and a half years. I've got promoted three times again, started as a systems analyst and I am now the vice president of implementation for major accounts.
Kate: [00:08:50] Tawana, this is our first-time meeting and I just wanted to comment how inspired I am hearing about your career journey and what brought you to ADP, and then also, you know, a glimpse into why you stay so thank you so much for sharing that. You know, let's talk about sponsorship. So how is it for you and others here at ADP?
Tawana: [00:09:14] Yes, and you know, I honestly did not understand the difference until I got to ADP. I felt like I had mentors in my past who would help me and guide me and give me advice. I didn't understand the true significance of a sponsor until ADP, and I had had mentors and mentorships are, you know, they can be as good as you put in and sometimes as good as you get, right? So, I've had varying experiences with mentorship. So, for me, I thought the mentorship was great because I got advice on what I needed to do. Expand your brand, learn more about ADP and I thought that was what a mentor would do, right? Tell me some things that I need to do and grow and improve on. The sponsorship piece surprised me because I don't, Now I understand that you are putting your name out there for someone else. And that was a big deal for me, and I literally got emotional. When you know and you guys know my sponsor is Debbie Dyson, and she was the person who and I, you know, she was such a big figure, and she was the executive sponsor of Cultivate. And so again, at that meeting we had, she said, hey, if you have any questions, you want to talk to me, send me an email.
Tawana: [00:10:23] Well, you know, people say that all the time, right, send me an email. I'm thinking she's never going to get this email, probably her admin is going to like, catch it before it gets to her and she's never going to respond. I sent an email just thanking her for her time and told her the advice was timely, and I would love to just run some things by her and I'm like, I'm going to, I'm going to shoot my shot and see if it actually works. And I got an email within two days and said, my admin is going to put time in my calendar. So that was my first introduction to a true mentorship because she really, you know, she told me when I wasn't ready to move, she said, slow down, learn some more, just do what you have to do, even though I thought I was ready for the next move. She really explained it to me in a different way that made me take a step back and say, OK, I need to re-evaluate. She actually created a role in her organization for me and put me out there. I got really emotional because not only did it add a sense of wow, right? Because she believed enough in me to do that.
Tawana: [00:11:21] It also gave me a sense, a different kind of purpose because now I want it to do well. It was important for me to do well in that role because someone like Debbie Dyson that ADP had put her name behind me, and I know I take that very seriously. So, when I mentor people, I mentor like she mentored me. It's not just the conversation, its deliverables, it's actions. It's really, you know, it's really intentional. The mentoring and the sponsorship is something that you have to truly believe. And there have been one person since I got into this role that I really felt strong enough, and there's several that I think are going to get there. But she told me that if you have to take that seriously, you have to be truthful with them, truthful with yourself and understand what true sponsorship means. So that's where I am with sponsorship, and I have one person who I truly believe in after working with them actually for almost two years to really see their growth and see the progression, and I would definitely put my name behind that person.
Ingrid: [00:12:20] Wow. Tawana, those are really great points. Thank you for sharing. And on that vein, do you mind sharing, you know, through your lens, how does ADP build an inclusive and supportive culture?
Tawana: [00:12:33] That's one of the things I loved about ADP, and I had heard that when I interviewed, you know, companies always say, we have this culture, we have this culture. But I knew very fairly early on once I got involved. And it's interesting because in the beginning I didn't get involved in the BRGs. I saw it and just thought, Okay, you know, because some companies have groups and it's just like a group of people who get together. I really didn't understand the significance of the BRGs here at ADP until I started getting really involved, and that meeting was my first interaction of really getting involved. And so, you know what? I got to make sure that I, I join and make sure that I participate. So, what I love about it is that it's not just it's inclusive of a specific group, but the allyship and everything you can learn from being a part of. It has really expanded my world here at ADP. I'm a member of probably six BRGs, an active member though, it's not just to sign up to sign up, we talk, collaborate and things that we do. You learn different things and cultures.
Tawana: [00:13:29] We share recipes during the month. I mean, it is such a culture that people embrace and the people who really are in the BRGs really value what it brings to you. We've had a lot of things going on lately in the world, and the Cultivate BRG did not shy away from it, which I think the members respect it, I think the community respected that we really dove in and said we are going to support our internal associates. Let's talk about how you're feeling, it's not just about what's happening, a safe place to share that information. You can ask questions and trust me, we got tough questions from people, and no one shied away from answering that. We really wanted to make sure that in the question that we always went to everybody in our group, including our allies, were how are you doing? The question we got from our allies who said, hey, I don't know what to say, except how are you doing? And it was great because that culture extended across not just within our own BRG, but across BRGs and across the company.
Kate: [00:14:29] Ok, so Tawana, I have a little bit of a loaded question for you, but I'm just going to go for it. So, do you see yourself here for another five or ten years? And then there's a Part B. So, what do you think your future looks like?
Tawana: [00:14:47] Absolutely, and I'll tell you, you know, really quick story. I tell this, I just told this story yesterday to some people. So, my first I was in the company. I used to be a consultant. My, I was a military wife, and so we moved a lot. So, consultancy was the way to go because people didn't want to invest in you if you're leaving in six months or a year. I was a consultant for a long time and then when I finally was on my own and single, I said I needed to get a real job with benefits and everything. So, my first job in a corporate environment, I was there for 10 years and kind of did the same thing I did at ADP, which is kind of my motive. I get in, I start, and my intent is always to grow. I was there for 10 years, started as a programmer ended up being a vice president, but that company merged and got bought out. Now keep in mind, this is my first experience in corporate. I love this company, I'm like wearing their t-shirts, I'm flying the flag. I'm like, I am the company girl, right? I could be the spokesperson. I love that company, I thought I was going to retire here. And even when we got bought and merged, I'm thinking, okay, but I've been great. I've been successful here. I've had great mentorship; I've been on the executive track and that was great for years until I got called into the HR office and given that little envelope with your severance package. And I was devastated because I really thought it had never dawned on me that I would not be at that company again.
Tawana: [00:16:06] So of course, after that, I'm like, I'm done with companies. I'm just like, we're just a number, you know, I have that mentality. My first breakup, right? Look, I'm not working, this is just a job from now on. It's just not who I am, though. I'm going to invest in the company. So, I left that company and went to a smaller company. I said, I got to, I'm going extremely opposite, right from a large company to a 200-government company. Like it was a Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Small government, I'm like, this is great, but I'm thinking, Yeah, but opportunities point again was not there. So, when I thought about ADP, I'm thinking, here we go back in this big company, but I'm like, you know what? I did the research; ADP has been around for a long time. Everybody has to get paid. We paid that time one in five Americans, and now we're going to be here. I just need to get in, understand what I need to do and move forward. Got in ADP and that's my goal, is to stay here because of so many opportunities. Again, I've been in small business, retirement services, global business transformation. Now I'm in major accounts implementation, the opportunities to learn and grow and shift and move our boundless here. I see myself being here, I see myself continuing to be successful, I see myself continuing to bring people behind me, up and that's my goal. I think I think I just touched the surface of what I can learn and do here at ADP.
Ingrid: [00:17:28] And speaking about one of the main things that you know I'm passionate about, which is work-life balance, you know, why don't you share with us a little bit of what does work-life balance means to you? And how can you actually make it balance, you know? Tell us a little bit about that.
Tawana: [00:17:47] Right. And I think that means for what it means is different things to different people, right? I've learned that because I hear people say it all the time. And for me, it was even harder because I'm a single mom right now I have a 15-year-old at home. And you know, when before pre-pandemic, you know, I was traveling, I was doing events and I had to manage that. And as my son has gotten older, COVID has changed a lot for us. Let me be honest with you, I feel like he needs much more attention than he did before, and honestly, I'll be honest with you, I feel like I failed a few times because I was so used to the balance that we had already established, right? You know, you do your thing during the day, you get home, we eat dinner, we talk about it and look at homework, and it's done. But the dynamic has changed, so I had to adjust with my work-life balance. Looks like I also had a team in India, so I was on meetings at night.
Tawana: [00:18:37] So what I've learned is to take advantage of the opportunities for peace, right. So, if I know that I have a meeting with my India team at nine o'clock, guest what? we're going to have to eat dinner early. I'm going to spend that time with my son, so I know that I can focus what I have that meeting. But my, the organization is so great at allowing you to be flexible, which I love when I need it some time to get my son adjusted. We relocated in the middle of this school year, and I needed some time. I said, I know I'm just I got this new big role, I went from an individual contributor to managing one hundred and fifty people, so I knew I needed to dive in but they said, listen, I know it's a big transition for your son. They allowed me to take that time, get him acclimated to the new school and a new process, the flexibility that the company allows. Allowed me to create flexibility in my own life and schedule to accommodate that balance for me.
Kate: [00:19:29] So, Tawana, I really appreciate just from a personal perspective, you know how you reflect upon work-life balance and what that means to you. And then I think, you know anything with balance, you know, there's also a point of connection, right? So how are we finding space for ourselves? But then how are we also finding space to remain connected? And so, I just wanted to lean into that a little bit and ask, how do you stay connected with your team and how do you keep them motivated?
Tawana: [00:20:04] So I love my leadership team, my team of leaders, I have 10 managers working for me and I tell them all the time us 10, we have to be a well-oiled machine to make sure the associates are doing well, so we connect on a different level. We not only do we connect for work, we also connect on a personal level and everybody has been so effective with COVID, so w do things not addition to the, you know, the fun stuff, right? You know, the video happy hours, for sure, right. We always celebrate birthdays, we always celebrate, we're celebrating milestones. I do personalization for all of my teams, and I try to make sure that I get to know them personally. I don't like generic emails that go out, I do personal touches with our people. I went through, I took them through a training on understanding the emotional intelligence, I think is important to know. So, I kind of focus on how's your team doing today? Have you checked in with your people today? So, for us, it's really about communicating on a different level. We have our standard business meetings, but then we always allocate time to talk about each other on a personal level. And I think that has allowed us to stay connected during COVID because we used to do so much more in the office. I was always out on the floor talking to people. And so, it definitely is a different change. But we connect on different ways. I sent people personal notes, we make sure that we like handwritten personal notes. I talked to them about mentioning their kids. I want to make sure that they know we know them as people, and we care about them during this crazy time.
Kate: [00:21:32] Tawana, if you don't mind me saying you are just a master class people leader, you really are. I love that you, you know, educate about emotional intelligence. I love that you truly care about who your people are, what's meaningful to them, and how you make it meaningful to you. I can only imagine if I have such a great appreciation and I'm not on your team, I can only imagine how your team feels. So, thank you so much for your time today. And you know, walking us through your career journey and how you keep your team motivated, and you know why you chose ADP and you know everything that you explain today and share it with our audience. I think they're going to really quite enjoy. So, thank you so very much, we really appreciate your time today.
Tawana: [00:22:28] Thank you both so much for having me, it was great to be able to share my journey at ADP and share a little bit about myself, and I wish you both a very happy holiday.
Kate: [00:22:38] The time of the podcast has come where we share what we're proud of, what we're grateful for, but listen, 'tis the season, the holidays are among us, I'm sure we have a lot of things that we can reflect back on 2021 and be thankful for. So maybe we just leave it at that, and we just say how excited we are for 2022 because we have some big things in store.
Ingrid: [00:23:05] I agree Kate, super excited about what the new year is going to bring in and all the new projects and new associates that we're going to have here at life at ADP. So great things are coming for next year and I'm super excited for that.
Kate: [00:23:20] And hey, Ingrid, guess what? With twenty twenty-two, I may actually be able to come out and visit you at the Pasadena office at some point, which would be amazing.
Ingrid: [00:23:32] Oh my god, that's so great. Yeah, we could, definitely, we could definitely do an episode from the Pasadena office, and who knows, maybe we could do some podcast with video.
Kate: [00:23:43] I think that would be awesome, and I definitely want a selfie video of us in front of the pet wall that you guys have in Pasadena. I love that wall.
Ingrid: [00:23:53] Cool. Make sure when you come and visit me, you bring your pet photos so we could add them there.
Kate: [00:23:57] Yeah, the crew. The crew. All right. Cool. Well, thank you everyone for joining, again remember to subscribe to Life at ADP the podcast on whatever podcast platform you're currently listening to us, and we will chat with you in the new year.
Kate: [00:24:13] This is Kate
Ingrid: [00:24:14] And this is Ingrid
Kate and Ingrid: [00:24:15] And we are part of Life at ADP the podcast.