21 Years and Counting: Why SAP is an Employer of Choice for Terry Orsborn
Article originally authored by Angela Schuller.
With SAP’s focus on diversity in the workplace, it’s not uncommon for us to hear about programs designed to put women into leadership positions, millennials into field enablement roles or challenging top talents to do something different with a fellowship opportunity. At SAP, you can map out your career path, or at least follow the breadcrumbs to where you want to be professionally.
In this series, North America Communications is talking to long-time talents to find out why SAP has been home to them for more than 20 years.
Terry Orsborn is director of product marketing for the SAP HANA platform, and is responsible for product messaging and positioning, launches, and extending SAP HANA to net-new audiences through partner and customer marketing initiatives. Weeks from receiving her degree and already at a career crossroads, with some urging from a friend, Terry applied for a position posted on their university’s job board. That start-up was Watcom, which was acquired by PowerSoft, then Sybase, then finally, by SAP. Read on to find out why she has made the company her employer of choice for over 21 years.
What brought you to SAP? What did you know about the company prior to working here?
I came to SAP through a series of acquisitions. Back in 1994, I worked for a company called Watcom, where we were focused the Watcom C compiler and Watcom SQL DB (which is now the SAP SQL Anywhere database). We were bought by PowerSoft shortly thereafter in ’94, Sybase in ’95, and finally SAP in 2010.
I started at Watcom fresh from the Wilfrid Laurier, in Waterloo, Ontario. I majored in business and psychology, and nearing graduation was really unsure about what to do long-term. For a moment, I thought about going back to school, but I saw a posting on a job board in career services about this tech start-up and decided to go for it.
So what was a typical day like during those first few years?
Watcom was a really small start-up organization where everybody knew everyone and what they did. I started out in an inside sales role on a team of six colleagues. We spent the majority of the day on the phone, fielding questions, and completing direct sales. Shortly after I started, we were acquired by PowerSoft. PowersSoft expanded our reach globally for the first time and my role expanded to managing the inside sales team. A year later we were acquired by Sybase, which increased our workforce to 5,000+ employees. There have been an incredible number of very positive changes, right from the start.
Watcom was a great introduction into the high-tech industry. Working in sales was incredibly exciting because you learn so much about our products and customers. After several years in sales, once we were acquired by Sybase, I moved to database product marketing, where I have spent the majority of my career. Today, I’m focused on amplifying the SAP HANA messages and values through leading product launches, creating a wide variety of content, collaborating with strategic partners on SAP HANA content and programs and creating customer success assets, like customer videos and success stories. I love the collaborative nature of my role and the variety of activities I am involved in. It’s really an amazing time to be working in technology, especially at a place like SAP.
Before the acquisition, what did you know about SAP? Did the company already have a great reputation in Canada?
Prior to the acquisition, I knew SAP was a large global applications company. At that time, the SAP applications did not run on the Sybase databases so SAP and Sybase were not connected before the acquisition. At Sybase, we had about 4,500 people worldwide. After the acquisition, we had 65,000 colleagues. It was exciting to think about the new scale and resources that the acquisition brought.
So 20-plus years later, you are still here. What are the secrets to your success?
I enjoy variety and change. SAP is a place that encourages me to learn and grow, and I’ve been able to take advantage of so many opportunities to do new things. Every day, we get to work with tremendously talented people, and they really keep me motivated. I enjoy making meaningful contributions to the business with great colleagues and learning something new every day. To me, that’s the definition of success!
Having thoughts of leaving is absolutely natural, especially when you feel like you are outgrowing your role and looking for the next challenge. But I’ve always been lucky. When I’ve found myself in that situation, a new opportunity arose. I love working in the high tech industry. There’s always a new challenge to tackle, a new product to market, and new ways to do your very best work!
There’ve been plenty of changes to technology, strategy…is there anything you’d like to see us return to?
I love seeing the evolution of the SAP strategy. We still run simple with our customers, but now we are encouraging them to do incredibly innovative things with us in this digital economy. It is great to see SAP on the leading edge and amazing to see our customers successfully transforming their businesses with SAP HANA.
What advice would you give to someone who’s first day was today?
There is unlimited opportunity at SAP. Keep learning and growing. Stay challenged. Seek out new opportunity and grow your network. Be flexible. SAP is always changing and that change provides opportunity for growth. Remember to have some fun along the way!
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