This month, we explore what makes our culture unique with two incredibly special guests, Sreeni Kutam, our Chief Human Resources Officer, and Nela Richardson, our Chief Economist. We chatted with Sreeni and Nela about their career paths, why they joined ADP, and why they stay. They also shared some interesting and creative insights on describing what ADP does and the impact we make. Listen to the episode and learn what they had to say!
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] Hi, everyone, welcome to Life at ADP, the podcast. This is Kate
Ingrid: [00:00:27] And this is Ingrid, and today we have two amazing guests. Not one, but two super special guests.
Kate: [00:00:36] I know I feel so privileged that we have these guests with us today. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you all to Nela Richardson, who is ADP's Chief Economist, and Sreeni Kutam, who is ADP's Chief Human Resources Officer. Welcome both to the Life @ ADP podcast.
Nela: [00:00:57] Hi, Kate. Hi, Ingrid. Great to be with you. And hi Sreeni, great to be with you as well.
Kate: [00:01:02] We're honored like I said, that you both decided to join us today, and today's podcast is actually an inspiration from an HR summit that we had last year. And Sreeni and Nela, we're talking about really associate inspiration and stories that they've organically heard just over time. And you know why people originally came to ADP, right. The opportunity that they saw or the growth that they were promised, et cetera. And really, how that origin point, if you will, morphed into something bigger than expected and that bigger than expected really is very personal, right, that could be something different for every single person. So to kick things off, I would love to know from both of you and Nela, if you don't mind, we'll start with you, but I'd love to know a general overview of your career path. So when did you join ADP? What was your origin point, if you will, why you came here and then why you stay?
Nela: [00:02:15] Well, it's a great question to have the privilege to be able to answer. I came at a time of tremendous national turmoil. I mean, I came during the onslaught of the pandemic. We were all just trying to figure out what it was. With little understanding of how much it would influence our lives, two years later, I started looking into ADP and talking to recruiters here and hiring managers here at a time when the stock market was turbulent. Not, not anywhere as stable as it was now is as it is now, when, you know, upwards of 20 million people had just lost their jobs, when the economy had taken a turn and fallen off a cliff. The worst downturn since the Great Depression. I came at a time thinking about ADP when there was tremendous social unrest and protests around the country, so it was a turbulent time. And the reason why I came is I felt that ADP was uniquely positioned to answer some of the biggest economic questions coming out of the pandemic. Number one among those was when were all these people going to get back to work and what kind of work were they going to go back to? And so really, I came for the data. I came because the data at ADP was just exemplary. It could tell about wages, it could tell about industries, it could tell the difference between a small business recovery and a large business recovery, and the jobs market was front and center in terms of the economic recovery. But I think as important as why I came is why I hope to stay, which is I came to a company that valued people and the people who are cool and the people were charming and the people crazy enough seem to enjoy the data as much as I did, and that was really alluring and it was promising, and I just felt like I made right away a lot of connections that made my interest grow in the company in itself and what could be done with the data to inform the world about the workplace.
Kate: [00:04:42] That's a great answer, and I sit on employer brand for tech talent and I mean, talk about data and we hear constantly over and over again that one of the differentiators for ADP as an employer is just the amount of data that we have access to. So interesting to hear that that's what attracted you, and then also why you stay is because of the people and some of the commonality and the drive and the appreciation of the data. Thank you for sharing that. Sreeni, we'll pass it over to you. You know, do you mind sharing a little bit about your career path? And you know why you came to ADP and why you are here and doing the amazing work that you're doing as Chief Human Resources Officer?
Sreeni: [00:05:32] Of course, thanks Kate. That was great answer by Nela. I'm not sure how I can follow that. My story, many of you know who have heard me before, I was a programmer not long ago in mainframe area. I grew up in India and moved to U.S. in '94, got transitioned to helping out HR departments, how to automate certain things, including payroll, benefits, etc. So that's how I got introduced to HR organizations,and lo and behold, I came to ADP and eventually became CHRO, very blessed journey I might add. I wish my, you know, entry point into ADP was as dramatic as Nela as it was, and it's run of the mill, I was looking for a different challenge as it was reviewing my own career until that point. This was back in 2014, I realized that I actually enjoy solving people issues with my technology background, and I figured that I would like to continue the path that I'm on and the best company that is going to give me the opportunity to bring both of my passions, technology, and people is ADP. And I've been a client of ADP before I came to ADP, and so I knew about the company quite a bit, and I always was inspired by the people that I dealt with, either their salespeople, implementation people, service people that I interacted with. And even though I was not a nice client per se, they never let me down. And when I talked to people during that time, they were always really proud to work for ADP and I always went away with an impression that it is a special company and when chance comes, I should probably take advantage of.
Sreeni: [00:07:33] And that chance did come in 2014. I came to ADP as a strategy person for HR department, and after that, I was asked to lead HR for a business unit in major accounts. And I did that work for a few years and I became CHRO. The thing that I came for ADP, as I said in one word, probably opportunity for innovation. Being an HR organization within HR company like ADP, it's a great gift and ability to bring, you know innovation not only within HR, but also, you know, influencing the product service implementation within ADP and offering those things to the outside clients is a great opportunity for me. So that's the reason I came to ADP. I see myself having that mission. And in terms of why I stay, it's been almost eight years. It's the same reason that was originally there before I came to ADP, which is the people, even though I say I came for innovation, but I'm staying for people. In my opinion, you know, there are three things every individual looks for in their career. One is meaningful work. Second is good group of people they work with. And third is opportunity for growth. I'm lucky enough that I check all those three boxes while I'm at ADP.
Ingrid: [00:09:08] Wow. Those were just honestly great, great answers, Nela and Sreeni. It's definitely good to get to know about your stories and you know why you came to ADP and why your stay. So thank you. I actually have a question. I'm curious to see what will be your answer. Let's say when you're talking to a friend and someone that may have no idea about ADP, which I kind of, you know, find hard to believe, when you're meeting with this friend or you're talking to this friend, How would you explain what ADP does? And you know, what is the impact of what we do? And if we could start with you Sreeni.
Sreeni: [00:09:47] You know, I've been around many HR people for the last 20 years. I don't have any friends that don't know ADP, but there were some people that I would run into. They do occasionally as in fact, my family asks back in India, What do you do and which company and I say ADP. They're like, What is it? And I always say my answer as, you know, do you work? And they say, Yeah, I do, and and I ask, Do you get paid? And they're like, Yeah. And I said, you also apply for leaves, apply for, you know, maternity leaves, etc. Take care of your needs, get, you know, information from your HR department, get coaching help? If you do any of those things, ADP does provide tools and services to help every single individual to be the best they can be. And I said that's what we do. And then the answer, you know, expands further into the specific products and services. But that's how I generally start. Do you get paid? Ok? That means that's the business we are in. I always also joked that as long as people are willing to work and wanting to get paid for that work, ADP is in business. So some people do confuse us with the other security company. I don't know what to name, but you do it on into those individuals, and I do try to differentiate the both companies.
Ingrid: [00:11:31] Thank you Sreeni, that's an awesome answer, and I think I'm going to take it. So when I talk to my friends, that's how I'm going to explain ADP. And Nela, what about you?
Nela: [00:11:42] Well, believe it or not. First of all, I'm glad Sreeni answered first so I can rip off his answer. But believe it or not, it's not all that different in terms of the personalization of what ADP does. I mean, Sreeni's answer was was great for a variety of reasons, but one it says quote "Do you, do you work? Do you get paid? Do you take off?" It's all about people. And so my version of that as an economist and I'm always thinking about data and how we use data and, you know, I want more people to work mainly not just because it's good for the economy, but that means more data coming to ADP. But I take them through their pay stub. I say, first of all, look at your pay stub. A lot of people don't look at their pay stubs anymore with direct deposit. People forget that there's the statement of all the activity that ADP can help provide, right? So you get the big number, the number we really care about, which is our salary, our hours worked, how much we get paid per hour, per pay period. It tells us our benefits and how much gets deducted from our paychecks to pay for health insurance and pet insurance and whatever else we've signed up for. It tells us about our deductions, it tells us about our 401K contributions. All of that is data that is a snapshot of our monthly finances and how we work and our vacation and how much we took and how much was paid for that vacation. So when I think about ADP, it's just being in place with people and people is the operative word here. From the time they're higher to the time they were, they retire and everything that happens in between in terms of their work-life, that's how present ADP is and that's how personal it is.
Kate: [00:13:36] That's really beautiful Nela and always designing for people, right? I love how you take people kind of through the personal journey of sharing what's on their pay stub, what's taken out like you really make it cater to them. And then Sreeni, I really love how you share like, hey, do you work? Do you get paid? And you really both put it very much in the first person for everybody. So like Ingrid, I will be stealing that tactic as well. So thank you so much for sharing. Let's talk a little bit about the candidate side of things. So those of us who are currently working at ADP, we know what a fantastic organization it is. From celebrating diversity, honoring its associates, and giving back to communities, our core values as an organization, we could go on and on. From a candidate perspective, for people who are curious about joining ADP, what would you share and why is now a great time to join ADP? So, Sreeni, I will kick this question over to you first.
Sreeni: [00:14:54] Thanks, Kate. Let me see, as a tried to answer in the previous question, there are three things I believe that are really important for anybody to review. One is the work that they do. Is it meaningful? Is it impactful? Who can provide that opportunity? Right? Number two is what kind of people they get to work with. And three, what kind of opportunities they will have for growth. So I try to tell candidates that in all those three areas, ADP does great job. There are seven billion people in the world even within the US there are a hundred and fifty million working population. In the world of work is changing as a result of so many things, right? Starting from industrial revolution to all the way to information revolution now with this pandemic. That world is always challenging. And then you throw into that people the most complex species that were walked on the Earth, the problems are plenty, and opportunities to produce meaningful creative solutions in that mix is also great. So the way I pitch ADP to people is, you know, if you want to solve complex problems where those problems definitions change day to day and the geographical lead of problems gets multiplied from one area to the other, come to ADP because we do design products and services that help shape the world of work. So that's number one. Number two, the type of people that you get to work with. And I tell the stories of people that drove hundreds of miles to deliver paychecks when World Trade Center thing happened in 2001. People go beyond above and beyond taking care of clients.
Sreeni: [00:16:55] When clients need, for example, you know, recently the pandemic, many regulations around the world came about as a result of governments intent to help small and medium-sized employers. And those changes require heavy-lift by ADP people to help the clients, and I know starting from HR, legal, technology service, implementation, everybody chipped in, including sales chipped in to help our clients be ready for those, be compliant with those regulations. And so the type of people that help you be successful and not be selfish every day, right? So that's the second part that I tried to bring forward. The third one is opportunities for growth, and my personal story is one anecdotal evidence. And then there are so many great leaders at ADP. You take Debbie Dyson, who was a customer service representative, and she started at ADP. Now she is the business unit president of national account. And you take John Ayala, same thing. Customer service all the way to Chief Operating Officer. Maria Black, who is currently the president but was a sales DM, and she started 26 years ago. So think about the role models and the evidence across the board that when you stick around, good things going to happen. You will have multiple career opportunities across the board, not only wherever you start, whatever the department, but you're going to be moved around and given opportunities for continuous growth. So, you know, those are the three, what I call it unique selling points that ADP offers compared to anybody else, and I'm going to stick by those.
Kate: [00:18:50] Thank you, Sreeni. Really thought-provoking answers. You know, when you talk about some of the things that we've seen over time, you could argue that ADP is actually an essential organization. It's it's an essential business, no matter what's happening in the world, we don't have the luxury for lack of a better word to stop because people's lives continue and they need to be paid on time. Their benefits need to be there. There's no time to pause and there's no room for error, really, which I think also talks about just how much there is to do here at ADP, you know, the work that we do is important, and it truly affects people's lives in such amazing ways. So thank you for that. You know, when I hear you mentioned people like Maria and John and Debbie, yourself, you know, I can't help but also think that ADP is an organization for people who want to succeed. So yes, we offer, you know, growth paths and so forth, but we also encourage our associates to be their own leaders of their destiny too. It's kind of a fine balance. I love that culture and that empowerment that we have here at ADP, you know, we're in control of our own destiny. And really, you know, there's no top. So from an associate perspective, you know, when I joined in 2019, that was something that really appealed to me personally. So thank you for that. Nela, I'm going to flip it over to you now, If you don't mind, do you mind sharing a little bit about what you would share to a candidate? And then also why you feel this is a great time to join the organization?
Nela: [00:20:43] Yes, absolutely. Happy to answer that question. And my experience has been relatively recent. I joined ADP about a year ago, so I had the opportunity to work in a lot of different places, both in private sector and in public sector, and in academia. So I had a good benchmark in which to judge ADP, and let's just start with the people. They're just so darn friendly. I mean, people are friendly, and I think that that is something that is often overlooked when you're looking for companies to work for. But when it comes to your day to day life experience, being able to work with people who are friendly, who want to get to know you as a person, not just what you can do for their own agenda, who are willing to help to explore different ways of working, being open to different ideas that's so vitally important as a new employee, especially when you join a company where there's a lot of people who've been here for long periods of time, who've had several careers within ADP even. And you can leverage that kind of experience, but not get bogged down by it. There's a real openness in that friendliness to new ideas, to a different perspective, and a new approach. And I think that's all part of that innovative spirit we've all been speaking of. The second thing I really enjoy at ADP is a global perspective. This is not a heads-down in the sand kind of organization.
Nela: [00:22:22] We just do what we do. We produce what we produce and what the rest of the world run itself. I feel like ADP has to be a heads up because our clients are everywhere. They're in every industry, we operate around the world, and so having a very global perspective about work, about workplaces, about regulation, about compliance, about what the new trends are in the workforce, what employees want, what employers are needing at this moment is part of the ADP offering. It feeds our products, it feeds the way we service our clients and it feeds the way I think we treat each other going back to that friendliness. So for people who really want to be engaged and not just their country, but in a global perspective with the global economy country, I think this is the place to be. And then finally, I admire the way ADP partners with its clients. This is about growth, it's about ADP growth, yes, but we don't grow unless our clients grow. And so it's about client growth. It's about being that trusted partner for them, whether it's in thought leadership or in part product or in service so that they can grow whatever the challenges that lay ahead. And I, I appreciate that spirit of partnership. And I think it's vital for companies who want to really be innovative and at the forefront of their industries, and I think ADP is one of those companies.
Ingrid: [00:23:58] Thank you both again for your time and you know for sharing your answers and your experiences. It's very, very valuable to me, and I'm pretty sure it's the same for Kate. Amazing, amazing answers. Since we're talking about culture and you know, reasons why joining ADP and I hear a lot of three items in each of the answers, what if we start with you, Nela, would you mind picking three words or three adjectives to describe the culture here at ADP?
Nela: [00:24:31] The first word I would say is supportive. I've found that as a new hire for ADP that I've gotten all kinds of support from different departments and really people just reaching out, a willingness to help. And going back to my previous answer, that's not just been in headquarters. I've heard from people around the world who believe in what the data can say about the world of work and have thoughts and would want to support our efforts to really find insights that will help our clients and help other stakeholders really understand what's going on and make improvements, so supportive for sure. The second, I will say, is smart. I mean, these challenges are not easy, and we have people at ADP who are employing their best efforts, their skills, and talents into solving some of the biggest questions that the world of work and companies are trying to solve right now. And so there is an intellectualism here that I think will help make our products and services even better. So smart people across the board, it's wonderful to work with smart people, to come to work and be inspired and challenged and have people, you know, consider things that you haven't considered. I think that's what helps me grow professionally talking to the three of you, it's all about learning from others and expanding what we know and what knowledge we can provide to others.
Nela: [00:26:11] So I enjoy the chance to work with people who, you know, open my mind in different directions as well. And then and this is so important, and this is what I love about the culture. Maybe the most. It's I don't I guess it's not one word, so you'll have to forgive me, but there's a willingness to get your hands dirty. You know, the hard work isn't just, you know, outsourced. It's not just passed off or delegated. I've seen so many leaders just say, OK, let me tackle this problem myself. Let me engage with my team to figure out how we can lead this leap forward in this challenge, whether the issue is about the workforce or the pandemic or diversity and inclusion, or how to have an engaged employee base or how to grow. I see people across the company really making those investments to be present and in that problem-solving themselves. And so that's great to see. It's inspiring that you feel like you're part of a team and everybody's playing a role. And so those three words and I know there were more than three there, so hopefully, that's OK. But I think you get the point in terms of the real kind of cultural hangers that I see ADP really being able to rest on.
Ingrid: [00:27:40] Thank you, Nela. So I got supportive, smart, and willingness to solve issues, Amazing. And what about you, Sreeni? What are those three words that you would use to describe our amazing ADP culture?
Sreeni: [00:27:54] Yeah. The three stakeholders I see very important for ADP's continuous success. Clients, associates, our shareholders, and I would say the culture reflects those three stakeholders' interests, one client-centric, second associate friendly, third result oriented. I describe our culture as equally weighted towards those three important traits or behaviors. Client-centered is all about taking care of the client's needs. Being associated friendly, you know, the more we do for our associates, they will do more for our clients and the more we do for the clients, clients would help us be continuously successful, and that's how the results will happen and shareholders are going to be happy. So that's the work cycle. Those are the three important stakeholders, and those are the three important cultural attributes.
Kate: [00:28:55] Thank you both for answering that bonus question, because I know that we hadn't previously discussed it, but both of you gave really insightful answers to really kind of behind the curtain here ADP. So, so thank you for that. And the one commonality, although somewhat different answers behind it all is really the drive for success. That's what everyone here at ADP has, right? Not only are we good people and we always try to do the right thing by the client, our associates, the communities, but we also really have just this innate hunger for success. So thank you very much. Well, Ingrid, and I want to thank both of you for taking time out of your extremely busy schedules to not only chat with us but inspire those people who are with ADP and those who want to be with ADP. So thank you very much for your time.
Sreeni: [00:30:04] Thank you, team, for inviting us, and I really had a great time and you made us all think before we answered. Those were the tough questions, and I hope we provided some useful information to the audience. Thanks for having me again.
Nela: [00:30:18] It was a pleasure speaking to both of you. It's an exciting time to be at ADP. I'd encourage anyone who's thinking about ADP to give us a shot. We have, I think, a tremendous offering for people who want to work hard but have fun, I hope this conversation reflects that.
Kate: [00:30:38] Fantastic, thank you so much to our special guest today, we really appreciate your time. And to all of our listeners, make sure that you're following us at ADP careers on our all of our social handles. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. And Ingrid passing it over to you.
Ingrid: [00:30:57] Thank you, Kate. Yeah, that was super amazing. It was a really, really good conversation, and I'm sure that our audience definitely enjoyed that one. And to our audience, don't forget to find us. Make sure you search for Life @ ADP wherever you are listening to podcasts. We are live on all podcast platforms and even YouTube. So please subscribe to our podcast and give us some love by leaving a rating on whatever platform you prefer. And thank you so much for listening.
Kate: [00:31:22] This is Kate
Ingrid: [00:31:23] And this is Ingrid,
Kate and Ingrid: [00:31:24] And we are part of Life @ ADP the podcast.