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Are you a SHE?

I’ve recently attended Mastering SAP Technologies 2012 in Sydney, Australia. In such an event, if you are a first-time attendee or going alone without knowing anyone , it can be quite daunting or awkward especially if you aren’t a networking expert. I attended this event couple of times alone for the past few years and I have to say Eventful Management always did a great job in making me comfortable with their friendly event co-ordinators, good food, music and comfortable environment. However, apart from that, it’s really important to find someone that you could talk and discuss (or network) with during that two, three days. You can get to know alot of skillful people, hear their experiences and gain useful SAP knowledge just through conversations.

I’m a female SAP Basis person and I often find it a challenge to know another female who also works in SAP Basis/Netweaver space. This year, I have been lucky. I managed to connect with two ladies whom work in the same space as me. One from IBM whom I had already met in previous SAP events and another lady whom works in the government sector. It’s a great feeling to know that we are not the lonely ones among the males in SAP technical space. We shared our opinions and knowledge on work and life, these indeed make attending such event enjoyable.

During our conversation, I raised this question  “Where are the rest of females working in SAP Basis/Netweaver area?”. Obviously, three of us have no answer and I said “Perhaps I should create a female space in SDN!”, so here I am writing  this here.

I went on to hear Gregor Wolf who is a SAP Mentor speaks about “How to Benefit From Community Contribution.” I raised to him on the thought of creating a space to connect female SAP technical professionals and how should I go about doing it if I intended to. Interestingly, he asked about why is there a need for this space. I explained that there will be topics that raise more interest to women than men, for example, “How do you juggle between your SAP career and your family life?”. I believe such conversation can provide support and bonding for female SAP professionals.

Are you a SHE in SAP World?

If you are, regardless whether you work in techincal, functionality or business area, you are welcome to drop a ‘Hi’ here and perhaps state where you are and share with us your situation.

I suppose this will be a good start if we all could know someone before the next event comes and get us into the car or flight.

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  • Heya Annie,

    Thanks to John Moy who sent me your blog via twitter.

    Let's up the count to 4! I'll PM you so we can gather our thoughts.



  • Hi Anne,

      I have your email address from Mastering SAP; I will send you some names (and their contact details) of Lady BASIS Consultants in Canberra and Melbourne. Good luck 🙂

  • Hi Annie,

    once Marilyn Pratt reads this you won't be able to hide behind the oceans and time zones from sharing your gender diversity stories. my predecessors know what I'm  talking about.

    • Hi Gregory,

      Thanks for the reply. It seems like I have opened a door of "what's gonna happen?".




      • Hi Annie and welcome and thanks for a very welcome topic indeed (thanks Greg for the head's up on twitter)

        Many many moons ago I taught some classes for SAP that came under the category of Basis and often I was the only women in a crowded room (yes back in the day people flocked to ABAP classes and there was a waiting list of students).  I've probably told this story countless times but at the beginning of a week's teach, as I would clean the whiteboards and prepare the room early on a Monday morning for my class and for my students, one of the early-comers would invariably ask: "when is the instructor arriving" and would look at me incredulously when I pointed out that I was her, that's to say: the "SHE" teaches ABAP and has arrived.  And when the week started like that I felt I had to work harder than other instructors to establish credibility.   And that seemed true even when there were some women (developers) in the room. About that time (1999) I decided that I wouldn't really want to hold all my conversations about inclusion and women in technology, in a women only environment.  It was much more productive to have that conversation in mixed company. Why? Because the idea of change can't happen behind closed, exclusive doors (in my opinion).  That's not to say there is no place for conversations that are suitable for a certain self-identified affinity group, but I know men as well as women that struggle with balancing family and career and buying into the idea that only women have to do that kind of juggling tends to keep some women in isolation.

        Lately, I've been reading and examining a good deal of literature that speaks of gender intelligence and tomorrow I'm posting a blog interview I did with our global head of diversity, where she describes some of the experiences SAP is having right now with gender intellligence training for managers.  One of the interesting facts is that a proportionately  higher number of women enroll in the course than do their male counterparts. (higher than their proportionate representation in the company as managers).  So the question was: Why is it that women are networking, attending workshops, creating forum conversations around this topic while men rarely initiate the discussion.  One of the answers might be that certain types or groups of people (men and women in this case) do have different communication styles.  And what I learned is that men might be more apt to ask: "What is the business value of inclusion and why are we having this conversation at all?" and in the absence of a clear business case, disregard the topic,  while women might just wish to establish relationships with others and feel safer having that conversation in relative isolation from those that would question the value of the conversation in the first place.

        Isn't it interesting that you have so many voices joining you here Annie?  Look around you in the comments.  Some very supportive guys respond as well as us women.  I, for one, would rather have this as an open dialogue, rather than behind closed doors.  But I would welcome the idea of creating an inclusive place (topic like diversity as a competitive advantage) where all kinds of topics around inclusion and diversity could be raised.  Examples: generational diversity (and ageism), cultural diversity (and racism), gender diversity (and sexism) ,work role diversity ( We had a long conversation going about geeks vs. suits for example).

        Please help me to continue to make it safe for all of us to come out of the closed rooms around these topics.

        • Hi Marily,

          Thanks for the interesting input, diversity is indeed a modern topic, even out of SAP world. To be honest, I didn't aim for big agendas or trying to 'change the world' when I wrote the blog. It is merely some thoughts being a female Basis person who can't help wonder where are the rest.

          This post isn't meant to be just limiting to females, anyone is welcome! If I could get to more ladies to drop some words here, the gender diversity will be a great one, isn't it?

          BTW, your classroom experience is a classic one.



          • Hi Annie,

            I LOVE what you have done here (and love the voice of your fellow contributors).  But hey, why shouldn't we aim to "change the world", one Basis person at a time.  😀 .  Ahh.  Modest agenda? That's typical of some cultures, generations and genders: non-confrontational and humble approach.  Nothing wrong with that but there are recognizable patterns.  Keep on cultivating diverse answers here.

        • Hi Marilyn,

          On the topic of Diversity as a Competitive Advantage....  I would have thought that there is enough evidence that diversity (not just by gender) is DEFINITELY a competitive advantage. You have more knowledge here; Do we still need to convince people that inclusion is a good idea, or are we at the stage where we (and I deliberately include myself here) need to learn HOW to be more inclusive ?


          Geeks vs Suits is a good example - Robbo did a good presentation on this in tandem with one of his customers at a Mastering SAP conference a couple of years ago. It may be worthwhile asking him if he still has a copy ?


          • Martin,

            Well look at the demographics for your answers.  Plenty of research on that found here: DiversityInc (and notice the top companies and read about some of the criteria).  Like my kids on a road trip always asked: "are we nearly there?".  They usually asked when we pulled out of the driveway on a 500 mile trip and like those trips, there are many routes, many stop-overs, and different perspectives around what's important to see and what constitutes a successful trip.  I'd say the journey has just begun.

    • Hi Sue,

      I don't think anyone who is a SAP Mentor (yes, I googled you)  is 'lowly', haha. I am not that high either, at least I can't call myself a SAP Workflow developer, and with the height of 5 foot one is not going to help.

      Nice to know you!



  • HI Annie,

    I'm a HE but I'm a father of two (Colin~1.5 years old and Caitlin~3 years old now) and I know what it is like to juggle between career and family life. I believe in gender equality and as such I try to help out as much as I can at home. Does it limit me sometimes in terms of possibilities/opportunities? Yes it does. Does it hold me back to do what I love and thrive doing that? Not exactly. Is it easy to combine? It's not always easy.

    Your very much welcome to stop me when/if you encounter me at a SAP event and I'll be happy to discuss this with you.

    You would have loved the Embracing Inclusion & Design Thinking evening event at SAP TechED 2011. You can find information on it in the wiki space and a number of blog posts:

    Spreading Design Thinking - a practice workshop

    Best regards


    • Hi Tom,

      First, I have to say thanks for your contribution in SCN space, I definitely did learn from some of your wiki or blog posts and applied in my work area though I can't recap which ones now.

      I have two 'kids' too, one is 66 and one is 67. Yup, my mom and dad. On the other hand,  I am their kid who hardly listen to them but love them in my own way.

      Thanks for the links and they are intriguing. A space to watch.



      • Hi Annie

        Thanks, always nice to hear that community members actually do something with blog posts I have written. Hope it served you well.

        Best regards


  • Hi Annie, at Fossil, we have a lady in our BASIS team and she is very good at her work. 🙂 I can have you two connected if you like. But of course, I have to get an OK from her first.

    • Hi Simon,

      Thanks! Hope she say 'Yes!'.

      I know a lady in Melbourne whom leads a BI team, am trying to get her onto this space and perhaps both of you might be interested to get connected.



  • Annie,

    A great thing about posting in the Forum is being able to find your community! The author, C. S. Lewis, once wrote, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:  What?You too? I thought I was the only one."

    People often look at SDN as a place to get the answer to a technical question. But SDN is also a community and by participating as you did with this initial post, all sorts of new - and good - things are starting.

    We all need to be appreciated for who we are and valued for our abilities. It's important to find those others that can support you (and you in turn, them). Great that you can use SDN for that as well!


    • Hi Bob,

      It took me a while to overcome whatever reasons that have been stopping  me to do so for the past years. I believe there are many out there would love to share and connect as well but didn't take the step due to their own reasons. It could be time, uncertainty, employment reason, privacy etc. I suppose I would call it 'Timing'.

      I totally agree with what you said. No man is an island and we can achieve greater things with collaboration and teamwork. Life is much more interesting with company and that brings us to different ideas, perspectives and cultures.

      I don't know what this will lead me to but it has definitely spice up my last two days!



    • Hi Esti,

      I've enjoyed this year event as well, one of the things is seeing fresh fruits available for healthy snack.  Any particular track that leaves you with great impression? I've enjoyed great on "SAP Centres of Excellence - Driving Value Out of Your Strategic Asset' session from Sanchia Stelling, Fonterra. Would return for her session if she comes back next year.

      /wave back


      • Hey Annie

        I enjoyed the the Code Exchange session a lot (which also happened to clash with Sanchia's session, so I didn't get to attend that).  I also found Martin English's session on running SAP in the cloud very interesting.  My flight was delayed on Sunday, so I missed the Demo Jam, which was disappointing.



  • Hi Annie,

    Thanks for the writting , It is pleasure to hear the responses too.

    I am SAP basis and solution manager consultant.

    I felt the same when I entered the TechEd hall first time. But again SCN is the one helped there. I met few of the SCN members(yes they are 'SHE') .And they made the 3 days blessful and we shared both personal and professional view. I attended TechEd evening workshop for women at technology. That gave more insight and inspiration.

    Recently I felt the same when I landed Singapore for solman implementation project, I searched the female canditates like me who is working in SAP Basis and Solution manager area in Singapore. alas!my net working also week, Couldnt find still any? Either or the way we had to learn and move on!! 🙂

    And your way of bringing  into group is perfect,It is really interesting to watch this space for further go!!



    • Hi Jansi,

      Nice to 'meet' you! TechEd....arr....*envy*. By the way, I am from Singapore and I was a Basis person back then too. Hey, you 'meet' one now! 😛  

      I have to say SAP is a niche in IT industry and being a female SAP Basis/Netweaver person, the chances are probably comparable to buying a lottery ticket (yes, I am exaggerating).

      I have no issue working and surrounded by guys, just feel that if losing that balance of both genders is not really a good thing. Of course, having said that, I don't have the answer how this can be improved apart from yelling out here to gather 'Girl Power'!

      It's mid-week, please pardon my craziness. Trying to get over why SAP cannot support to export more than 65K rows to Excel 2010?!?! We have the latest support pack and SAPGUI patch level. 😕



  • Hi Annie,

    We met together more than 3 years ago, we had a conf call my first day (I was consultant for your company), it was great to hear you before working with you and it was a pleasure working with you during those 3 years and a half.

    I'm working in Geneva, I'm French. We are 3 technicals females (and 2 assistants) for 40 persons within my company!

    I'm happy to be a female working on SAP for 11 years.

    I will be happy to see other women here to talk about everything or anything!!

    I hope to see you in Melbourne Annie if I can come again to Australia 😀

    All the best


    • Hi Flavie,

      I probably didn't tell you this but I was pretty glad (smiling inside) when you join us 😆 . 3 and a half years?! Geez...time flies so quickly, I suppose that explains what "Good times pass quickly" mean.

      5 females out of 40 is 12.5%, I am the only technical female out of 8 person, that's also 12.5%! I wonder what's the percentage in other work place.

      I will be travelling Europe next year and Paris is certainly a place not to be missed. If you are still there, perhaps we can catch up for a coffee. Will have to brush up my French, don't think I can survive with just "Bonjou", "Bonsoir", "Merci beaucoup" 🙂

      Contact me when you are coming over, I can give you tips on dinning, shopping (UGG boots? Wine?) or bring you to places that are local favourites like this one

      It has been a great pleasure working with you.

      I wish you all the vey best 🙂



  • Hi Annie,

    Believe me had I been in your place, experiences would have been the same but I might not have expressed it so explicitly in SCN. Had I been in your place, I would have made acquaintances/friendship in the event and then later followed them on twitter, SCN.

    However, I am not sure if I like the idea of forming an exclusive 'SHE' community. Especially after we have initiatives like Design Thinking, Embracing Inclusion and Driving Innovation which magnifies the ground of performance for us.

    These experiences indirectly teaches us to be little social in our lives (or as much as you can) or may even call for a greater engagement in the community.

    Thanks for writing your experience so well. I would love to follow you on twitter. Do let me know your id.




    • Hi Kumud,

      Exclusive is not what I am trying to promote and would like to see either. Somehow it's easy to talk about diversity but in reality, how is it form naturally and sustainable in different demographics? So far, SCN seems to have achieve this by looking at all the comments left in this blog 🙂

      Depending on demographics, I believe different country has different situation. Not too sure about where you are but in Australia, the male and female ratio in SAP technical space (functional is a bit better I assume) is pretty one-sided. Imagine in a group of ten people and only  two ladies among 8 gentlemen....mmmm..........I would guess the atmosphere needs to let the ladies feel safe to voice out and other factors (mostly human nature) to allow diversity to bloom. Perhaps someone in Australia might want to share with us their observation?

      My twitter is hi5annie

      Thanks for leaving your 'voice' here!