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The spirit in Berlin was filled with enthusiasm, the hunger to disrupt & create! The resounding message across the day was building solutions with a strong purpose!

Having a purpose & making a difference with it indeed was the continued theme. It also established SAP’s strategy as involved in developing start ups & focused on engaging with early talents through innovation.

Berlin included two highlights for Stefan Ries: Interaction with the Social Impact Lab & the much awaited SAP Innojam – Coding the Future. The two integrated so well on the topic of innovation as a mind set.

The day started with Stefan visiting the Social Impact Lab in Berlin-Kreuzberg. It was the first time for the Social Impact Lab team to welcome an SAP board member in their Lab.

After a short introduction round, Norbert Kunz (CEO Social Impact GmbH, Ashoka Fellow) provided Stefan Ries a tour through the Lab’s physical space for working, networking and exchange, business advice and start-up support. Three times a year entrepreneurs can pitch for the Social Impact Start program that provides up to eight months of professional consultancy, coaching, workshops and co-working workplaces, made possible by SAP. Norbert says “Our idea has been shown successful, we already have Labs in Berlin, Hamburg, Köln, München, Zürich, Frankfurt and Wien.”

6 different start-ups from the SAP Social Impact Start program pitched their ideas in a highly interactive way to Stefan Ries to get input from the executive on HR related questions.

Topics ranged from how to give older people some access to engage with non-profits on Youvo or how to get more visibility for the Kiron University and how companies can learn from projects like the Hotel Utopia, which retails a hotel together with refugees

In an open discussion round Stefan encouraged the entrepreneurs to continue to drive with passion because what they are doing today is already having direct impact on people’s live. Stefan is also offering to cook a “Alpenländisches” – lunchfor the Social Impact team on a Wednesday, where the Social Impact Lab is cooking with the team in their kitchen

Stefan joined SAP Berlin InnoJam – Coding the Future after lunch! Event focused on connecting with SAP’s next generation, empower these young drivers of innovation and establish an ongoing dialogue. The enthusiasm & team work of 70 budding student innovators from 17 countries were unlimited. Ten teams hacked and coded all night using design thinking principles, HANA applications as a platform to create apps for a given problem case & worked in a high pressure environment. One would wonder how lack of sleep, diverse teams, need to drive consensus could bring best results overnight & here I was pleasantly surprised to see the motivation & eagerness to deliver unique apps in the field of Entertainment & Media & Education of great quality.

The day was packed with team presentations, creativity, desirability, technical implementation & viability were criteria that decided that team “Learn & earn” as the winner; a focused app that connects ideas over a platform to companies. This way companies crowd sourced ideas & choose what they want to invest in/implement. What was interesting was a diverse set of panelists & a great opportunity for the students to hear from them. Resounding theme was innovation with a purpose! Listening to Reza, the founder of Full control (A startup of device connecting platform), Jürgen Griesbeck, founder of Streetfootballworld & Stefan Ries, CHRO SAP. They highlighted how technology can be used as a key change agent & more as an enabler in the direction of users need & lesser about the company’s own need.

Students were keen to understand Stefan Ries’s view on how SAP has adopted a true global thinking & provides an opportunity to build networks for new joiners from the start. Stefan shared that through strong onboarding programs at SAP, these networks help in learning beyond boundaries & developing deeper engagements with the organization. A flexible work place & work life balance will play key role here as well. An approach of making work as part of life & integrating the two could drive passion with purpose. Students were most inspired by Stefan’s own personal philosophy of doing things out side of one’s comfort zone, which keeps one passionate and makes one achieve more!

A personal observation & take away for me was the growing interdependency & partnership between mature organizations like SAP & growing startups like Full Control & Streetfootballworld. How the ecosystems of startup’s leverage SAP HANA applications for innovations & how big organizations still continue to invest in start up’s to stay tuned to today’s world’s need. This will be a continuing transformation & indeed heading in the way to make a bigger difference to the world!

All in all, the atmosphere, its engaging set up, the loud voices of excitement, competitiveness & the lingering need to innovate were real moments for me to be a part of. This is a brilliant way to engage early talents before joining SAP, by showcasing their talent & making them a partner already in our journey!

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