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MBA rotational programs are a common method of recruiting, developing and retaining promising talent, but our SAP IMPACT program is anything but common. An initiative first conceived and sponsored by CEO Bill McDermott, the IMPACT program selects 10 high-caliber MBA candidates from five prestigious educational institutions to participate in a one-year leadership rotational initiative that expands their global awareness, fosters collaboration and continuous learning, and ultimately prepares each participant for a permanent role within SAP. The program is based on a principle of shared value between SAP and participants: creating next-generation leaders ready to solve tomorrow’s business challenges today.

Personalized Experience Builds on Strengths

The purpose of the IMPACT programs is to develop strong leaders and collaborators, which means going beyond the GPA and looking at a participant’s life experiences. What unique perspective to problem solving does a former elementary school teacher bring? How does a successful entrepreneur work as part of a team in a massive, global organization? We work with our participants to construct a unique rotational track based on their strengths, aspirations and career goals.


By first understanding a participant on the individual level, we are able to develop a rotational schedule that affords a wide variety of opportunities in different parts of the business and prepares them for a permanent role contributing that aligns with their development goals and areas of interest. In doing so, we ensure their success and fulfillment while building a pipeline of creative leaders with fresh perspectives to strategic projects.

Guidance and Mentorship Foster Success

Solving real-world business challenges and contributing to the success of strategic projects during each rotation, there is a tremendous amount of accountability placed in the hands of each IMPACT participant. Helping them to succeed are designated managers, who set clear expectations, deliverable schedules and success metrics. While the rotational manager does track performance and deliver a participant’s formal review, the relationship is one of mentorship and guidance, rather than judge or critic. This management structure ensures the participant greater transparency in the metrics used to track their success and ultimately, more opportunities to succeed.

SAP leaders actively seek out the opportunity to work with IMPACT participants and our organization as a whole reaps the benefit of strong, confident resources capable of realizing ambitious project goals, comfortable measuring success in themselves and others and dedicated to solving challenges through teamwork.

The Workforce of the Future: Collaboration Over Competition

The cohort structure of the program means participants work together, not in competition. They are tasked with a group challenge as well as individual responsibilities within their business area rotations. The complex chain of departments and resources involved in developing new products and solutions makes the ability to work collaboratively, to share ideas and transfer knowledge freely, critical to the success of the future workforce. In a diverse, global organization such as ours, the need for collaborative thinking cannot be overestimated. Embracing the perspectives of team members from around the world and with different life experiences is the foundation for innovation and problem solving.

The IMPACT program develops strong alliances among participants and with SAP colleagues they engage with during their rotations, these relationships build a lasting network of shared interest and empathy across business areas. They share a common experience that unites their individual perspectives into a singular mission of success for the organization.

The shared value between SAP and participants of the IMPACT program is evident in the success we have already achieved together. We are excited to be bringing you stories of those successes from past participants of the IMPACT program in future blog posts.

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