In any religion, you go to a temple or shrine to search for answers, to pray for peace and joy, and to share your innermost feelings. I never thought my association with Temple Grandin would literally take the form of a pilgrimage taken to find answers. Allow me to explain.
After my son was diagnosed with Autism, I travelled across the world meeting doctors, therapists, researchers and leaders in the field of Autism. While I had heard about Temple Grandin and had seen her TED Talk, it wasn’t until I watched her HBO movie that my eyes were truly opened, and I was convinced I wanted to meet her in person. After setting up a lunch appointment (thanks to Thorkil Sonne – founder of Specialisterne), I took a 36-hour journey from Bangalore to Colorado – for a 2-hour lunch meeting. This time I spent with Temple, in a simple restaurant talking for 2-hours, was the best education I could have ever received in the field of Autism. In this moment, I actually managed to get a peek into “The Autistic Brain.” This was two years ago, and I have kept in touch with her since. I keep her updated with the SAP Autism at Work project, and she provides me with an abundance of invaluable guidance. I often quote her in my speeches, and there is one in particular that stands out to me. “The world needs all kinds of minds,” says Temple. This is the message I want to convey in my work at SAP. In business, we need all kinds of minds in order to innovate and create the change the world needs. That is where my passion lies, in trying to create opportunities and openness at SAP, to welcome diversity, and most importantly, find a place where employees on the spectrum can succeed – just as Temple has done in her career.
Now, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share the temple of knowledge and thought leadership that Temple Grandin provides. On Monday April 6, I am overjoyed to be hosting Temple Grandin at SAP Silicon Valley. I encourage all employees to take this fantastic opportunity, listen to her inspiring story, and learn from her as I have done and continue to do. I look forward to seeing you all in attendance!