TCS recently had the pleasure of hosting SAP CEO Bill McDermott in our Mumbai office. Bill shared his life journey and inspirational stories from his book, “Winners Dream”, with our CEO and TCS leadership in attendance as well as with thousands of TCS employees across our global offices via webcast.
The timing of Bill’s visit and his advice to move confidently ahead through life’s tough challenges could not have been better. Our TCS SAP Practice and industry partners are busy gearing up for TCS’ sponsorship of SAP’s global flagship conference, SAPPHIRE NOW, May 17-19 in Orlando. As our teams prepare their speaking session content and onsite meeting plans while balancing their ongoing demands serving our clients, I know that Bill’s message inspired them to continue to raise their game and find new ways to engage their respective teams.
Bill has a gift for connecting with audiences. He combined humor and life lessons as he recounted his journey from working class kid in Queens to CEO of SAP, and what he’s learned over the years about leadership, success, and the importance of human connections. I was eager to discover what lessons we at TCS might glean from Bill’s words, particularly in regard to motivating our teams around the world. He shared a number of valuable insights around employee engagement that are applicable to TCS.
Like our partner SAP, TCS has a vast global workforce, spanning diverse industries, skill sets, and cultures. Bill emphasized the importance of embracing that diversity. Each member of a team, he reminded us, has different goals, strengths, and skills. Bill shared, “I spend a lot of time understanding who [team members] are, and what their goals are… You’ve got to connect to people on an interpersonal level, and you’ve also got to connect people to other people, to unite around a common goal.”
The importance of connecting with employees on a human level was a recurrent theme in Bill’s talk, and he shared a powerful anecdote about how this approach had a transformational effect on one company’s performance: When Bill became President of Xerox’s Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands division, its sales was struggling and the team was under pressure to improve performance. Bill spent two weeks talking with and listening to the employees to try to understand why their numbers were so low, and what would help them do better. In the course of doing this, he learned that what everyone wanted from the company was a big holiday party with live music and salsa dancing, with none other than the leading salsa sensation of Puerto Rico, Gilberto Santa Rosa.
Bill came back to his employees and said they were going to get that party and the chance to dance to the live music of Gilberto Santa Rosa. But there was a catch: They had to become the highest performing division by the end of the year. Nobody thought it was possible, but they started working with growing passion and focus and by Q4, they’d made it to number one.
“You can talk about excellence,” Bill said. “You can talk about results. But in the end it always comes down to people.”
I encourage everyone to take his ideas to heart when motivating diverse teams around the world. Many thanks again to our partner SAP and to Bill McDermott for sharing his life experiences and words of wisdom with us. I look forward to seeing him again soon at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, where he will, no doubt, inspire us once again.