Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Ryan van Leent

A fish out of water – my expedition into Social Enterprise – prequel

Since entering the workforce in the year 2000, I’ve worked exclusively in Public Sector – primarily with large Government agencies in Social Protection (unemployment benefits and income protection, child welfare and family services, disability services and step-down healthcare, aged pensions and social assistance). Throughout my career I have sought out opportunities to work on projects that will have a positive impact on people’s lives, and during the course of one such engagement I was fortunate to work alongside a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) providing services for people with a disability in Queensland. That experience has always stuck with me, so I was thrilled to find out about the opportunity to participate in SAP’s Social Sabbatical, working in a cross-functional team to solve business challenges for resource-constrained non-profit organisations.

The SAP Social Sabbatical is a pro-bono initiative, undertaken as part of SAP’s commitment to making the world run better and improve people’s lives. The programme is coordinated by an American non-profit organisation, in close collaboration with a local social development organisation. Social Enterprises working to improve social wellbeing, environmental sustainability and economic performance are invited to apply for the programme, and selected SAP employees are matched to these organisations by the programme managers. As soon as I heard about the SAP Social Sabbatical in February, I rushed to gain the support of my management team and applied. The selection process was as rigorous as any job application I have undertaken, including an intensive interview to assess professional and personal suitability for the programme.

Now, having been selected for an engagement in Christchurch New Zealand at the end of this month (May 2017), I am excited to be embarking on an expedition into Social Enterprise – where I have no doubt that I will be very much a fish out of water! Nevertheless, I intend to chronical my journey of discovery as I progress through the off-site pre-work and onto the on-site engagement. I don’t yet know what organisation or project I will be assigned to, and even once I do find out I’ll need to withhold their name, but that shouldn’t prevent sharing of the business context, project goals and (hopefully) what outcomes we are able to achieve.

I don’t think I’m going to save the world, but I am keen to enable those on the ground to multiply their social and economic impact by leveraging the skills and experience of our SAP team. I will also say that I am particularly excited to have the opportunity of working with a Social Enterprises based in Christchurch – a city and a community that has experienced significant upheaval as a result of multiple earthquakes and the recent Port Hills bush fire.

So, with that I’ll sign off for now… Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!

Assigned Tags

      1 Comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Varkey George
      Varkey George

      Dear Ryan,

      Thank you for the blog. Contrary to what we read in Newspapers & TV News, I am delighted that God Alimighty has selected His Chosen to work for the betterment of the lives of ordinary people much so the disabled & aged.

      Ryan be assured that we are with you in spirit & may God bless you & your team in achieving the preset goals.

      Looking forward to hear from you through these blogs on the godly work you are embarking upon from Down Under.