Executive Recruiting at SAP: Five Steps for Hiring Leaders
What would management be without leadership qualities? And what is the company doing to hire qualified executives?
SAP News met colleagues from the executive recruiting team and found out how they hire new leaders to SAP — and why.
The following five steps help the HR colleagues to find competent leaders among executive candidates.
1. Build Up Contacts Individually
“We are the initial contact to the market telling the SAP story in a meaningful way. That’s why it’s extremely important that the things we say about SAP elicit a response from the candidates,” says Yolette Caldwell, executive recruiter for Latin America.
This is a big responsibility for her, one that she is happy to perform as part of her job, and a task that requires a great deal of expertise and empathy. After all, it’s easy to find potential candidates in the age of LinkedIn and friends. But the difficult part is actually reaching them and creating the foundation for a conversation.
“My job is to get them to listen to us,” says Yolette’s colleague Ted Johnson. An active network is essential for working in executive recruiting. “The best candidates usually aren’t looking for a new job. They’re satisfied in their current position. And it isn’t that simple to win them over to SAP.”
2. Create the SAP Experience
“The SAP experience is most important to us,” says Roopesh Panchasra, vice president, Global Executive Recruiting.
“It’s the nature of recruiting that we send more rejections than acceptance letters, since we usually have more than one candidate being considered for each open position,” he explains. “So it’s only logical that we work to create a positive experience for those who didn’t get the job, too. We want all candidates, at every point along our hiring process to feel they have been treated fairly with an experience that is informative, positive and lasting. We can also get back to them the next time a suitable job is offered, which will only be viable if the experience was a positive one.”
The colleagues from recruiting are the ones who provide the SAP experience. During their interaction with applicants, they shape the perceptions of the company, with all its values and products, and make an impression of individual, personal contact.
3. Show What SAP Can Do
SAP is often still seen as a traditional ERP giant: less agile and not as hip as many newcomer companies in the cloud business.
“SAP is already a very strong brand with a certain legacy. Many people know where the company comes from, but not really where we stand today or where we want to go,” says Martin Stevens, recruiter for Europe, about the situation.
Moreover, communicating the company’s strategy and vision is just one side of the coin. The candidates that Martin and his colleagues hire enter at such a high level that they often have direct influence over SAP’s future direction.
4. Question the Criteria
The shift in focus to the cloud also has an impact on recruiting, explains Roopesh: “The leaders we hire today have entirely different perspectives compared to leaders that we may have hired five years ago.” Ben Guillot from Roopesh’s team adds, “We are looking at other companies than in the past.” Potential candidates are working not only at the big competitors, but also at smaller businesses and startups.
5. Let Trust Supersede Any Other Characteristics
“People inside the organization are asking for good leaders because they feel that has dramatic impact on their own job,” reports Ben. For his colleague Ted, a candidate’s trustworthiness is almost always the decisive criterion.
In our business, a glance at a resume or LinkedIn profile is quite enough to find out a person’s technical strengths. But the decisive question is how we can apply these strengths in an executive position, explains Roopesh. “We want inspirational leaders that will drive success in their teams and have happy, motivated employees.”
In this video, three executives talk about why they decided to join SAP