“I coach a lot women at SAP who want to build their career but might not realize the opportunities that exist, how to tap them and fit into the groove. SAP has given me room to develop and I’ve received encouragement from a lot of senior colleagues and role models in the company.”
I have been at SAP for 15 years and what makes my job exciting even today is that every day, there is something new to learn. One of the main aspects of the work structure at SAP that has helped me a lot is the flexibility. For me, flexibility is about having the chance to do what I like. I started off as a developer and gradually matured into an architect. My children were very young when I first joined SAP. The architecture profile afforded me total control of my time with the flexibility to come home and work outside of regular hours, thus allowing me to manage my responsibilities towards my family. But it is important that flexibility is used in the right way to contribute to the company. Like everywhere else, freedom comes with an additional responsibility to use it well. What I would like to tell any new employee of SAP, male or female, is that this is a place where you can find your own way and make a career.
Sometimes as a woman we need to hear, “Yes, you can drive this; Yes, I’m behind you in case you need support.” It automatically instills confidence in you and works as an impetus when you realize how much the company values your ability to make the right decisions. During my time at SAP, many executives, both male and female, have encouraged me and given me the space to explore. For example, in 2004 I got the opportunity to launch TechEd in Bangalore, although I was not in marketing. That was the first time such a momentous event was being hosted in India. Today, TechEd is a 60,000-person event.
It’s not about spending 15 hours a day, at work, but being able to focus. I mentor a lot of women and I see them mixing their professional and personal challenges. As a result, they are unable to focus on either responsibility. I help people realize that it is possible to have the same outcome with fewer hours of work as long as they have the right application of mind. I’ve also learnt that for you to be really good at one thing, you have to accept the fact that you may not be too good at something else. It’s all about choosing the right thing.
SAP has initiated a lot of programs to support women. For example, in India, before a female colleague goes on maternity leave, we have a structure in place to support her once she resumes work.
To me, being a great leader is winning the trust of the people you are leading and being able to stand up for them. It also takes the support of a good team to make a good leader and my team has played a crucial role in helping me reach where I stand today. I would like to be recognized as a leader rather than a woman leader. What matters is not who you are but how you make a difference.