2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Announcement Event

ADP’s Debbie Dyson: Keep Raising Your Hand

”One of the things that was always important was remaining visible, not only as an individual contributor but as a leader. No matter what opportunity came up, I was always raising my hand.”

As a direct report to President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez, Debbie Dyson is a powerhouse at ADP. As the person charged with continuous improvement and client experience, she is critical to the company’s growth and sustainability.

Debbie is only the second person to hold this position—and the first woman and the first Black. She has 12 direct reports and is responsible for more than 14,000 employees globally. Her task is to use Lean Six Sigma methodology to transform the business to better operate and deliver service to clients.

Diversity of thought and experience, she notes, is crucial to her team’s succeeding. “Innovation comes in so many different packages, regardless of age, gender, race, et cetera. … I’ve welcomed the opportunity to think of business in such a broad manner as I do now,” she says.

A Major Promotion

Debbie officially started the job last July but was involved since her promotion was announced in April 2014.

“Did I see this coming? Well, it was a good surprise. I had a moment when I thought, ‘Really?’” she says. “Not to say somebody dialed the wrong number, but I couldn’t think that this was really happening.”

Debbie Dyson
Current Position
Corporate Vice President, Client Experience and Continuous Improvement, ADP (No. 24 in the DiversityInc Top 50)Previous Position
Division Vice President/General Manager of the Major Account Services’ South Service Center, ADP 

Education
Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Santa Clara University

 

Community
Breast Cancer Awareness Advocate

She didn’t know the significance “of my sitting in this seat until I started,” she says. She notes that many people in the organization look at her as a role model because she started as a customer-service rep and has worked her way up.

“I have worn multiple hats at ADP and one of the things that was always important was remaining visible, not only as an individual contributor but as a leader. No matter what opportunity came up, I was always raising my hand and wanted to perform beyond expectations,” she says.

In her last job, as a general manager and division vice president, she noted that people were often surprised when they met her.

“Before I landed in New Jersey I was in Atlanta. When I got there, people were shocked by the magnitude of an African-American woman being in this job,” she says.

Family, Job Loyalties

Debbie started working at ADP four days before she graduated from Santa Clara University, where she majored in finance. She went to a job fair at school and saw the ADP table with the big red logo. The recruiter had come all the way from New Jersey and there was no one else at the table.

“We had an instant connection. She was describing what they did, which at that time was mainly payroll,” Debbie says.

She particularly valued the training she received in her first job as a key account manager. The training was very thorough and prepared her to work successfully at ADP. It consisted of two weeks in New Jersey alternating with two weeks in Northern California for three months.

“They were hiring hungry graduates who had that edge they were looking for. I knew nothing about payroll but it fascinated me. I loved working with clients but still dealing with numbers,” she says.

Debbie grew up in Northern California, where her father was a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and her mother was a registered nurse.

Her father is now retired. Her brother, who was three years older than Debbie, passed away when she was 16 and her mother died five years ago from breast cancer.

“I’m very motivated to make them proud. They are not here so I can represent what they weren’t able to do. My mom wrote me a note to make sure that you give back—and I do,” she says.

Building an Inclusive Company

Debbie’s been involved with ADP’s employee resource groups from the beginning. She was one of the core members who started the African-American group a decade ago, and she has served as its executive sponsor.

She’s had many mentors, “and I took the best from all of them to evolve myself and learn how I can interact with different people,” she says. Today, she receives many requests from people at ADP for mentoring advice.

“I tell them they can call me whenever they want. I never say no,” she says.

12 comments


  • Great article and very proud of you, Debbie. Always an inspiration! It’s an honor to work with you at ADP.

  • Reading this article on Debbie Dyson was very motivating and extremely encouraging. It is nice to see someone that looks like me in such an important position. As a contractor here at ADP, I am constantly asking myself why I am here and what is my purpose? Prior to coming to ADP, I was a payroll professional for more than 10 years, served in the military for 7 years and am the proud mother of three beautiful daughters, the eldest being 29 years old. I have given of myself, and my time tirelessly serving others. I can now see that coming to work at ADP will be no different. My purpose here at ADP will be to provide quality service to the client, exceptional support to my team and to be inspired to live up to the challenge of being great at what I do.

  • Lorrie Duncan

    Keep climbing!
    I love to read about your accomplishments and see you front and center on the portal home page.

  • Dianne Greene

    We are proud of Debbie Dyson and her leadership at ADP! She is a motivating leader who connects with associates at all levels. We love her story, her professional journey and her values. Great article!

  • Ebony Howell

    Debbie is the “real deal” – she models the way for many of us at ADP and beyond. In this new role, more people will be exposed to her. Keep your eyes open…for Debbie, the best is yet to come.

  • LaTasha Cook

    Fantastic article Debbie! It is truly an honor to be a part of the same organization and benefit from your passion and insight. We appreciate you here at ADP and what an invaluable resource we have in Debbie! So proud to partner with you.

  • This is a great story I look forward to hearing more and actually seeing Debbie here in Canada.

  • Rohit Bansal

    You are a true inspiration and stand every bit for diversity of thought and experience. Thank you for bringing front and center the importance of showing up and where hard work and effort can take you. I had the privilege of meeting you in India and was energized with your straight talk, focus on diversity of thought and openness to be reached directly. Proud to have you among us!

  • Sissy Pinnegar

    Excellent read and very inspiring!

    Thank you Debbie for sharing your story and for your ongoing support and leadership here at ADP.

  • Michael Manfredo

    I am proud to say I know you. Your accomplishments are proof that having goals and desire can take a person anywhere. Keep up the great work!

  • Tanedra Dance

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Debbie! I am so appreciative of the work you do at ADP to make certain diversity remains important to all of us! I am so proud to work for ADP and learn from your brilliant leaders such as yourself!

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