Susana Zanders is currently holding the position as Solution Owner in the Industry Business Unit Utilities for two Business Priorities, Customer Experience and Billing and Revenue Management. Besides being responsible for the Go to Market communication and supporting strategic deals, she is also leading the Utilities pilot for the Board level project on roadmap, integration, service and value. “Love what you do, do what you love” is her motto.
I had the chance to interview Susana about her interesting life story, challenges and her attitude.
Tell us about your life before joining SAP.
I grew up in Singapore and upon graduation took up a job with AMEX Singapore. During my vacation in New Zealand, I fell in love with the country’s beautiful sceneries and the friendly Kiwis. I decided to quit my job and venture out on my own to NZ. Thanks to my bilingual capability and my sales experience in Singapore, I got myself a job within a week upon arrival in Auckland, a job as the marketing executive of a local Mandarin Newspaper publication. During my free time, I worked as a volunteer at the Auckland Citizen Bureau as a translator to the lawyers who offered free legal advice to new immigrants. After a couple of years, I was headhunted to join a computer training center as a sales executive. The plus of that job was the ability to attend all classes for free to learn about the applications offerings. That was my first exposure to the world of application software and technology certifications. I worked hard and become one of the top sales people in the company within 6 months. In this job, I begun to develop a passion and curiosity for computer technology and information systems. I also started to learn about Enterprise Software for Business and Consumer Software for private individuals. I strongly believed that we can leverage on computer technology to make life easier and increase productivity, my desire to go into software development was seeded. My chance came when I was introduced to join a consultancy company in New Zealand who has just won a major contract to implement SAP and in particular, ISU-CCS 1.1A. I took the opportunity and started devoting myself to becoming an ISU-CCS expert. My studies in the University on Business Process Reengineering and Information system helped me to do my job well and seen thru several end to end implementations, both successful and not so successful. For those not so successful projects, I would stick around to handle escalations and even will go to the floor to work with the end users until the new system was stabilized. My passion for the job and the people made me trusted as an advisor in the projects I was at. I became team lead for the Customer Service module and later worked for utilities companies in ANZ and Asia.
How did you come to SAP?
In one of the Go-Live reviews from SAP at the customer in New Zealand, I met a couple of ‘very cool’ IBU experts from SAP HQ, who has inspired me to want to work directly for SAP because I was impressed by their system knowledge and also their industry knowhow. I was also very excited to see that these IBU experts had access to developers and were giving them feedback and fixing bugs. Those colleagues later became my managers in SAP.
In 2001, I married a German and moved to Germany. I took 6 months intensive German course at Goethe Institute and found a job with SAP German Consulting. During that time, I was offered a job with Deloitte for higher pay but I choose to work for SAP because I wanted to be close to the development and understand how software is developed and delivered. My first customer was EnBW and a year later I joined the IBU and since then I never looked back.
What are the challenges of your job and the industry and what makes you stay in the Utilities industry so long?
No year equals the last one. Utilities @ SAP is showing thought leadership since decades now by permanent business investigation and transferring findings into industry trends powered by our solutions. Especially in our todays 4.0 full service provider transformation with its disruption and revolution. I am excited about my work at SAP and I want to work with my customers to help them in their transformation journey.
Use one word that best describe yourself?
PASSION – I believe that with Passion, you can create new opportunities and move mountains tirelessly. With Passion, you can affect people positively and influence them to connect and form a community to get things done.
What did you take away with you in the different countries you have lived in made an impact?
I have connected the different stations in my live to my today’s inner self that makes me the perfect fit to the multi dimensions of my business challenges: Singaporean discipline and team spirit, Kiwis boldness and the willingness to go beyond borders paired with German correctness and engineering perfection. To manage a full time high impact job with 5 kids may sound impossible for many but I am actually enjoying it and managing it well.