I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in a panel this morning dedicated to the topic of Women in Telecoms.  The event was hosted by the leading industry publication, Light Reading, as a part of their “The New IP” conference.  I was joined on the panel with an amazing group of female leaders from Ericsson, Commscope and Square.  As always with these types of activities, I’m constantly reminded of what a truly great industry I am a part of and the power of women coming together to share their own personal journeys, network, and help each other succeed.

As I prepared for the panel over the past couple of days, I reached out to our diversity and inclusion team to better understand what programs SAP has in place to help women in the workplace.  While I was aware of, and am an active participant in some, of the programs and activities, I was blown away by the amount of programs we have.  I’m so proud to work for a company that clearly takes women’s issues to heart and puts programs in place to help us network with each other, grow in our career, find mentors, develop our leadership skills and so much more.  I had several people come up to me after the event and say how impressed they were that SAP had these types of programs.

One of the topics that I discussed in the panels was the importance of exposing girls to the opportunities there are in technology at a young age.  We can all agree that more diversity in the workplace is better for the business and will bring new skills and capabilities to help drive our growth.  I think the key to getting young girls interested in this industry is to show them what coding means, to get hands on time working with technology, and to understand the impact they can have on technology innovation.  I think I’m a good case in point. When I was 10 years old, my teacher asked if I would be interested in going to a computer programming summer camp.  Now, I don’t want to age myself too much but we are talking pre-IBM PC era and I would venture to say that computer programming camps were not all that common.  Something about the skills I had and what I enjoyed doing most, made my teacher think this might be something I would enjoy.  And wow, I had the best experience of my summer camp life.  I thought it was like doing puzzles and was so creative.  Did I end up ultimately becoming an engineer?  No, but that early exposure gave me a glimpse of what technology was and I thought it was cool.  I think, looking back, that my path was set then and there.  I’m happy to see that SAP is working with organizations such as GIRLsmarts4tech that offers hand on computer science workshops to middle school girls and will even be hosting one of these workshops on the Palo Alto campus in October of this year.

I’m thankful for organizations like Light Reading that host events that bring women together with common interests to help us to continue to grow as people and employees.  SAP will be launching our Women in Telco initiative at the upcoming Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona with a cocktail reception on Sunday, March 1.  If any of you are interested in joining us there, I would love to see you.  Reach out to me at Julie.stoughton@sap.com.  And if you want to know more about what SAP is doing in the diversity and inclusion area, check out the jam site!

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