It was an amazing honor to be promoted as a Top Talent. I’d just returned from my maternity leave to work part-time in my previous job, and I was thrilled at the nice label, which would be a nice nudge to my career! I was inspired to prove that a working mom can be successful in both worlds: at home & work. Well my excitement soon deflated when I learned that I was not eligible to take part in the Top Talent job rotation program. The problem – I was part-time. It seems there was a rule somewhere, written or assumed, that if you’re not working 100%, you’re not fully dedicated to your career. And as quickly as the surprise of the honor was given, it was taken away.

That wasn’t going to stop me: full of energy, I began approaching colleagues and the Top Talent program to explain my views and the impact on my career.  And then a sideline comment from someone took my breath away. I was told to resolve my personal problems on my own… that not everyone is a Top Talent, so it’s not a topic of general interest.

I have to disagree – driving change is always a personal commitment and can be spurred by your own personal needs! I made some noise and the next Top Talent cycle included offerings for part-time employees.  I didn’t benefit from it since I went back to working full-time, but I was sure proud to have contributed to someone’s career. I noticed how if you don’t find a connection to others, it’s harder to offer support. My father is now the strongest advocate in his group of friends for women’s equal rights…. ever since he held my daughter in his arms. She is the link he needed to make it personal.

Many women at SAP have also made tremendous impact when taking personal interest in someone else’s needs. I learned this from Martine Clemot, who founded a nonprofit organization in 2007 to support Fodécariah, a small town in Guinea. Martine set clear goals she wanted her organization to reach and with extreme perseverance, she has helped improve the lives of so many. For example, they’ve  built a Multimedia Library which has been widely visited by over 200 children already.  And she’s not stopping there. She’s secured  ~40 K euros of aid from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development to continue to expand the school with more classrooms and a cafeteria to provide 1,000+ meals a day.

This year, Martine has many helping hands to design the yearly calendar with beautiful pictures from Fodécariah.  Funds raised from last year’s sales were invested in an electrical mill which allows the town women to grind greater quantities of shea nuts and make more money so their children can attend school. This year’s funds will be dedicated to cover the costs of attending elementary school and will be provided to girls from the poorest families in town. You too can support Martine’s efforts – read about her many contributions here in German (http://www.schule-fodecariah.de/deutsch/News_Projekt.html) or contact her directly: martine.clemot@sap.com. Did I mention that Martine’s long-time partner is from Fodécariah?
That was the link she needed to make a personal contribution to others. And it’s her dedication to helping others that makes her a strong leader.

Improve something in your life, help someone else, or contribute to an initiative which is meaningful to you – make it your business
to support others. Find the link that makes it personal for you and leave the world a better place than you found it. That’s how you can inspire others to do the same and drive positive change.

Life is a personal business.

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