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Author's profile photo Susan Galer

Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP

Sindhuscn.jpgWhile the general shortage of skilled workers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields is well-documented, the dearth of women is even more acute. SAP is among many companies addressing this challenge, aiming for women in 25 percent of management positions by 2017. Meantime, I’ve launched a series that spotlights some of the brilliant women talent already working at SAP. 

Meet Sindhu Gangadharan, Vice President and Head of Product Management for HANA Cloud Integration at SAP. She grew up in Bangalore, India and has spent almost 16 years working at SAP in Germany. A Computer Science Engineering Graduate from Bangalore University, she is a regular speaker at technology events across the world and recognized as a thought leader in the software integration industry. I recently spoke with Gangadharan on what keeps her energized as she helps customers on their journey to cloud-based computing in the digital economy.

I was attracted to a career in high technology because medicine and engineering were the two natural paths growing up in Bangalore. I was always fascinated by technology so it was the most logical choice for me.

The most important qualities that have brought me to this point in my career are my family’s support, my fascination with demystifying technology and my management skills. People in Germany sometimes ask if it was any different for me growing up in India and I always say actually it wasn’t. My mother had the same expectations for me that she had of my two brothers. As a young girl on the debating team in school, I learned skills I use every day in my current product management role, making innovations easily understandable for people.

My advice for young women considering a career in high tech is to persevere so you’re ready when the moment arrives for you to shine. Set your goals and work hard to achieve them. If you mold yourself towards your aspirations, you’ll be confident to realize them when the time is right.

Achieving work/life balance is so last century. Women are evolving away from compartmentalization. Our focus is on achieving a flow between all aspects of our lives. When you are in harmony with that flow, you are able to do everything that matters to you.

I’m obsessed with integration technology. As head of product management for three of SAP’s strategic integration solutions – HANA Cloud Integration, Process Integration and Financial Service Network – my teams have a pivotal role in helping companies transition to cloud-based computing. Everybody wants to adopt cloud-based solutions quickly, and integration is among our customer’s biggest challenges in this journey. Contrary to some assumptions, cloud doesn’t automatically solve the integration challenge, and I’m proud that my job is simplifying our customer’s business, helping them move into the digital economy.

One of the things I love most about my job is meeting customers around the world and traveling places I wouldn’t normally visit. As an Indian living in Germany for almost 16 years, I’m endlessly fascinated by this multi-cultural opportunity.

The business trend I’m most worried about right now is data privacy and security. However I’m excited that SAP is at the perfect juncture to address the juxtaposition of three forces: cloud, big data and analytics. We have the capability to help companies turn data into meaningful insights without intruding into private data.

My dream assignment is to be on the board of young startups, providing advice and mentoring to help young people shape products that address emerging trends based on what businesses really need. 

Businesses can attract more women to the technology industry by making sure they hire more women. If you have equally qualified men and women, it’s important to select the woman. Years back I was against quotas but now I think differently – it’s the only way to close the gender gap.

The career achievement I’m most proud of so far is the recognized, market-wide success of the solutions my team manages. People seek our guidance when it comes to choices on integration, reflecting a significant amount of trust in our knowledge.

The most influential role models in my life are my family, my husband and my parents. These are the people that motivate and support me to get to the next level.

I’m helping women at SAP by increasing visibility of women talent within my network and also encouraging women to leverage their communication and interpersonal skills. I also share some of my own experiences in my personal blog.

When I’m not working, I relax by reading and writing about the many activities I enjoy, cooking, going on long drives with my family, and spending time with my children.

The woman I really admire and respect is Indira Gandhi, the first woman Prime Minister of India. She was a great public speaker and decisive leader. Although I was very young when she was assassinated, she continues to influence so many women like me.

Follow me @smgaler

Related Content:

Tech Workplace Diversity: How to Attract and Keep More Women in Technology

This article was originally posted on the SAP News Center.

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