Schaumburg-Based Paylocity Celebrates Women in Tech
Monday, September 30, 2019
Posted by: Gary Hotze
Brent Glasgow, Multimedia Content Writer, Paylocity
While studies indicate women occupy only 20 percent of jobs within the technology industry, many Illinois companies make it a priority to recruit female employees for tech roles and keep them by maintaining a culture that fosters career growth.
That’s the case at Paylocity, a Schaumburg-based payroll and human resources software company that employs 3,000 people nationwide.
Support in Career and Life
Melody Ashman joined Paylocity in 2000, three years after its founding. Ashman left a competitor to join Paylocity as its 27th employee.
“It was always all hands on deck. If the phone rang, it was everyone’s job to answer it,” Ashman said. “We focused on getting clients, keeping them happy, and doing whatever it took. You did everything, helped everyone, and you learned so much.”
A mass communications major in college, Ashman started in customer service/tech support. Her current role as product owner – her ninth with the company – involves identifying what clients need and shaping the vision of products that make their lives easier.
“Nobody graduates from college saying, ‘I’m going into payroll!’” she said. “But it’s been so interesting. It’s fascinating to create something that lasts.”
Ashman said honest feedback from supervisors has been important throughout her career.
“That’s so much more valuable than someone just telling you you’re doing a great job,” she said.
Five years ago, Ashman lost her husband, Marco, to cancer. As he fought the disease, Ashman found out how much she meant to the company and her fellow employees. In addition to Ashman working remotely from Marco’s chemo appointments and the hospital, coworkers donated their paid-time-off so she could always be by his side.
“They were always there for me, whether I needed them or not,” she said.
Tech Not Just a Boys Club
Amanda Hanson was Ashman’s coworker at a Paylocity competitor. A year after Ashman left, Hanson joined her at Paylocity as Employee No. 51.
“Melody said, ‘I’m working for a great new company, they’ll hire you because you know payroll, and you get to wear jeans every day,” Hanson said. “I said, ‘Sold, no more pantyhose.’”
Hanson studied art in college, but said she opted for a different path because she “had to eat,” and found an environment at Paylocity that encouraged leaps into the occupational unknown.
“I didn’t go out looking to be in technology, but found a place that that was willing to train me and let me learn by doing, with the understanding that mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them,” she said.
Now as Director of Product Experience at Paylocity, Hanson is in her eighth role with the company, and counts many past and current employees as mentors.
“I knew what I wanted to learn, what I wanted to be, and looked around at the people who had that knowledge and tried to be useful to them,” she said. “If I asked for somebody’s time, I wanted to provide something in return to help in their role.”
Hanson is inspired by the female tech professionals at Paylocity.
“There’s a perception that tech is a boys club. I’m not sure I agree,” she said. “It’s a male-dominated industry, but girls are getting curious about it younger, and choosing the education or path that brings them to technology.”
Photo by Scott Tracy. Amanda Hanson (left) and Melody Ashman previously worked together at another company before joining Paylocity in the early 2000s.
No Longer the Only Woman in the Room
In college, Sally Minor was the lone female in many of her classes as she earned her computer science degree. After four years in the tech field, she headed to MIT to get her MBA.
“People there were founding companies. Collaboration and systems thinking research captured my imagination, and I could learn the business piece and product development,” said Minor, whose two sisters are also in the tech industry.
After MIT, Minor held five different positions before landing at Paylocity in 2006 as a product owner, a role she enjoys to this day.
“I’m probably the only one here still in their same job that long,” Minor said. “I really like this job – working with a team, shipping product, solving problems, talking to clients.”
Minor relishes Paylocity’s diversity – both in its workforce and in thought.
“It’s neat to walk into a room and I’m not the only woman, and to see different perspectives, not just from male and female, but from all different backgrounds,” she said.
Another key perk for Minor and other Paylocity employees is the company’s flexible remote culture.
“I get to be a mystery reader at my kid’s school. I can work from his indoor soccer practice. Where I am in my life, that‘s priceless,” she said. “I’m grateful to be able to do interesting work with great people and a mission I believe in, and do the things that are really important to me at home.”
Photo by Scott Tracy. Sally Minor earned her MBA from MIT and has enjoyed her role as product owner at Paylocity since 2005.