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SAP is focused on the right things, such as design thinking and customer satisfaction, but none of that is possible without the high-caliber people driving it all. My fellow SAP Business Trends blogger Melanie VanLeeuwen recently reminded me of this.

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SAP’s Rocky Ongkowidjojo (left) and David Swanson (center) speak to university students, graduate students and recent graduates about opportunities at SAP during SAP TechEd in Las Vegas.

“I knew that I would be able to do what I love here, and that it would make me genuinely happy,” VanLeeuwen noted in a blog post on Monday. “I knew this because from day one I noticed the collaborative environment at SAP and the value of teamwork.”

VanLeeuwen was writing about the first impressions formed by herself and other participants in SAP’s Early Talent Ambassador Program, an effort by SAP University Alliances to draw the world’s top talent from more than 1,300 universities around the globe. Recruiting younger workers grows increasingly important as organizational decision making continues to shift from the board room to the end user.

Introducing university students, graduate students and recent graduates to positions and opportunities at SAP was the reason behind an early talent roundtable discussion I attended at SAP TechEd (@SAPTechEd — soon to be @SAPdcode) in Las Vegas last year. And SAP is looking for more than just programmers, according to the session’s co-host, David Swanson.

“There are all kinds of opportunities at SAP,” Swanson said. “We need people of all disciplines.”

Big supply chains have been at the heart of SAP, but the company now focuses on customers — especially how people use products. Swanson and session co-host Rocky Ongkowidjojo cited SAP Fiori as an example of SAP looking at how people use things every day.

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University of Liechtenstein graduate student Adela Calin talks to Swanson and Ongkowidjojo about how SAP differentiates itself from other employers.

Up to five years of work on one project was a big shift for SAP, according to Swanson and Ongkowidjojo. It’s also way of the future.

“SAP is changing the way we work — traditionally it was people working in cubes,” Ongkowidjojo said, using his tablet computer to show photos of his open workplace in Palo Alto, which is optimized for collaboration and design thinking. “I really enjoy working there.”

SAP University Alliances flew a few promising European students to Las Vegas so they could experience SAP TechEd. One of them was University of Liechtenstein graduate student Adela Calin, whose pickup team won InnoJam and competed in Demo Jam at the start of SAP TechEd.

“SAP measures the soft skills that add value … it’s a different mindset,” Calin said after the early talent session. “After this experience, I’m even more interested in working for SAP.”

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

Related Media:

Hey, Melanie: Early Talent First Impressions

VIDEO: #DemoJam Boldly Goes Where No #SAPTechEd Has Gone Before

VIDEO: Jamming 90 Minutes of #DemoJam into Three at #SAPTechEd

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