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“My Life at SAP Academy” with Jamell Culler, SAP America

As a part of our “My Life at SAP Academy” blog series, we interviewed Jamell Culler, Academy Account Executive – SAP North America. He told us a little about his life, his time at SAP Academy, and how SAP Academy can give recent graduates and young professionals the tools and traits to start their career at SAP!

/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/jamell_culler_group1_556936.jpegTell us about yourself.  Where are you from?  What University or College did you study at?  What did you study?  What hobbies/passions do you have?

Greetings all! I am Jamell Culler, an Academy Account Executive via the global Sales Academy out of the Houston office. I am from North Carolina by way of New York City, and I am an alumnus of North Carolina State University (Go Pack! \m/ ).

Having a knack for businesses and how they run, I majored in Business Administration while also taking many courses in the international studies area to give myself a global focus. One of my many nerd factors includes learning what goes on behind the scenes of businesses and the strategies they implement. I think it is fascinating to look at two different companies that are in the same industry but go about generating revenue in completely different ways.

I am also a huge sports fan! In high school my friends would call me “Mr. ESPN.” I generally support the New York teams so… Go Giants! Go Knicks! Go Yankees. I also, albeit tough, thoroughly support the Wolfpack of NC State. I am becoming a fan of fútbol (soccer) as well as a result of my experiences with the academy and the most recent World Cup. Lastly, I also like to think of myself as a fantasy football guru.

I have a passion for giving back and volunteering. The feeling of putting a smile on someone else’s face or making their life a little easier is amazing and is unlike any other feeling. I try to make this world a better place if I can.

How did you hear about SAP Academy?

I came across the SAP Academy searching for entry-level sales training programs and was most intrigued by what SAP offered. The program allowed me the opportunity to travel and meet new people from different walks of life. Also, the structure of the training I would be receiving fits well with my personal style. I could learn concepts in a classroom and then immediately be able to put those concepts into practice with the way the rotations are set up.

I considered many training programs and came close to joining a rival. I am very satisfied with my decision and glad I made the one that I did.

Tell us a bit about your SAP Academy experience.  What was one of your biggest takeaways or greatest experiences?  What did you gain from your experience through SAP Academy?

My greatest experience with the SAP Academy was with the people I met. I didn’t study abroad in college and this all but made up for it. In my class, the academy was made up of 29 different countries and I roomed with a guy from France. It was invaluable to meet so many people, from so many different cultures. Learning about how my peers lived in different cultures was very intriguing. It also pushed me outside of my comfort zone when it came to trying new things. I’ve added many things to the list of things I’ve done for the first time with my new colleagues.

Tell us about the diverse culture of SAP. How did the focus on diversity at SAP Academy impact your experience?

The focus on diversity had a very positive impact on my experience with the SAP Academy. I’ve forged many new friendships that I normally would not have forged. It was definitely an eye-opener. I am now planning my first Euro trip and have a contact list of friends from all of those countries to supplement my time there. I’m excited!

What does RUN SIMPLE mean to you? How do you RUN SIMPLE?

RUN SIMPLE, to me, means taking a step back and looking at whatever you’re doing from a high-level, big picture view. While looking at it that way ask yourself “Is there an easier or simpler way to accomplish my goal?” I believe we look at things with the same lenses and perspective as we did decades ago while so many things have changed around us. Battling the “We’ve always done it this way” mentality with a fresh look and prospective usually reveals an innovative way to make your life simpler.

I RUN SIMPLE by attending customer meetings with only an iPad in hand. Anything that can be accomplished with a laptop, can be accomplished with an iPad. I like that it shows to customers we as an organization have changed, we are up with the times, and we are innovative. Mobile is the new desktop and using only a mobile device indirectly shows our customers we believe in and find value in the things we are preaching to them.

What part do you play in the concept of Next Generation Leadership?  What does NGL mean to you?

I play a huge role in the Next Generation Leadership concept. Tomorrow’s leaders will be Millenials, as we will be the majority of the working population in the coming years. To me this means remaining on the cutting edge of leadership and leadership practices to ensure I don’t bring last generation’s mindset into our generation and beyond. The world and it’s demographics are dynamic, and continuously changing; leadership and what that actual means in practice must adapt as well.

For example, it’s been widely noted that Millennials like flexibility in the workplace. With previous generations 9 – 5 in the office was the standard, but now working from home a few days a week is becoming more common. As a leader, I need to be aware and responsive to this. If I were leading a team it may come across as abrasive to set the standard that you must be in the office 5 days a week and in doing so I risk losing some of my top talent to organizations that are adapting to new generations working style.

What makes you passionate about pursuing an education or career in technology? What inspires you about technology right now? What gets you excited when you think about the future of technology or how do you think technology can change the world?

I am passionate about pursuing my education and career in technology because this is where I can change the way the world operates. Technology enables us to do things that were once deemed impossible to accomplish. Becoming a student and employee of technology gives me the opportunity to challenge status quo and make an impossible, possible. That’s awesome and it genuinely inspires me.

When I think about the future of technology I see so much opportunity and possibilities. Can technology tackle the challenges of our world (i.e. solve world hunger)? Can a world like The Jetsons be created? Is it inevitable that flying cars and robotic butlers will become the new normal or the new black?

I am intrigued by the Internet of Things (IoT). I think this emerging technology can have positive implications on the world. For example, if you can connect a crop or tree to the net and with the data it collects, optimize the way a farmer farms for a maximum yield of crops. Then, could we start to impact world hunger? Or if we could use video conferencing and small sensors to relay patient data to a doctor and treatment to a patient. Would we then begin to provide quality healthcare to remote and high-poverty areas?

The IoT is a brand new platform that allows us to innovate and provide use cases that truly impact the world and the way we do things. I am very excited and curious to see what technology emerges in the coming years.

When you look ahead [3-5yrs] what do you most look forward to in your career?  What impact do you hope to have at SAP?  What impact do you hope to have on the world?  What legacy do you want to leave for future SAP Academy AAEs?

What I look forward to the most in my career is the opportunity to enable new possibilities. Technology enables the world and how we do business. I am a fresh set of eyes with a new mindset and this will connect technology and new possibilities which in return innovates the world. My apologies if that got too philosophical.

At SAP, I strive to be at the forefront, leading where we are trying to go as an organization. I don’t want to fill a position. I want to create one. I want to enable other businesses to innovate and be able to have an impact on our world.

In the world, I want to leave a positive change to a complex challenge. For example, figure out how to provide everyone in the world with clean drinking water. I know there is a common conception that all Millenials think they will change the world. I respond with some will and has to, so why not me?

For future SAP Academy AAE’s, I want to leave behind a legacy of success. We are entering roles that were previously for seasoned sales professionals. I want nothing other than to show that we can be successful and disruptive in this role.

I want to close out with a quote by Chuck Palahniuk that inspires me and that I embody. “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.

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      Author's profile photo Stefan Funk
      Stefan Funk

      Thank you Jamell Culler for this great and inspiring interview.