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Article originally written by Kathrin Kapp

BJÖRN’S STATEMENT – JUST WORDS OR REALITY?

Female colleagues from CTO & SAP Cloud Platform organizations were asked by their global HR Business Partner Kathrin Kapp if they perceive the statement of their unit leader as just words, or if it reflects the reality of their daily business and experience within Björn’s organization. About 30 females from different locations, job functions like development, product management, customer enablement, people managers and technical experts shared their thoughts.

All participants were happy about their role and responsibilities, but also about the working environment for female colleagues in the unit. As you will see by reading the quotes below, our female colleagues – who cover a wide spectrum of skills and knowledge – feel appreciated in the CTO and SAP Cloud Platform teams, thanks to an open and inclusive diverse workforce. Although the positive consensus among those asked, there is still room for improvement.

Madhu Narayanan from Labs India, Development Manager with 17 years of experience in the domain of integration and orchestration stated that she noticed that in development colleagues no longer presume that a developer is per se a male employee. For example, colleagues phrase their sentences gender neutral which was not the case in the past, and underlines that female colleagues belong to the team just as much as their male peers.

Kathrin Nos, Development Architect working in Walldorf shared that, at SAP, by far most teams have members with a diverse background and are glad to welcome you. “I became aware of this when representing SAP at CeBIT 2017 in Hannover. There, the male dominance was perceivably higher than in our everyday work at SAP.” Kathrin highlighted that “for a career in technology, you need to know what you want and should actively ask for it – but this is true for everyone, not only for women.” She recommended to convert the fact that women are still less represented than males in technology into an advantage: “People will remember you more easily and you should not underestimate the power of visibility and a good network.”


Kathrin Nos

The view to perceive the gender difference as an advantage was also shared by other colleagues. Andreea Weber, Development Manager in Walldorf believes that female colleagues are invited and welcome to join the “Technology boy’s club” in CTO & SAP CP. She sees an open culture and no categorization by gender. She said: “We need to be more self-confident and just do it the way we feel we should do, without trying to please everybody or fulfil someone else’s expectations”. She also highlighted a quote of Gunther Rothermel – Head of SAP CP User Experience Platform, the unit she belongs to „It has been proven that gender diverse teams are more effective and efficient. We have, and will continue to set up more such diverse teams in all locations” which also shows that Björn’s senior leadership teams see and embrace diverse teams.


Andrea Weber

Nadine Beigel, Development Manager in Walldorf, leading a UI Team in Gunther’s organization illustrates how team diversity has a positive impact on the product. “In our department developing the user interface of SAP’s solutions, it matters a lot to make the user interface appealing and easy to use for all end users – for women and men using our software every day. This can be quite a challenge as we all know how different tastes can be, while we need to decide for just one option. Here it proved to be beneficial to have diverse teams, in particular, in terms of gender diversity, as we are more successful in jointly deciding on the one solution our end users enjoy the most.” And Stanislava Baltova Area Product Owner from UI in Sofia, added: “As a woman at SAP the biggest lesson I have learned is that I need to overcome my own limitations, challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. SAP gives opportunities that everyone could embrace, regardless of gender. So, if you want to grow in your career you are the one to make the first step, no one can do it for you.”

 
Nadine Beigel and Stanislava Baltova

Liz Thorburn, Customer Solution Adoption Specialist, based in Newtown Square, said that she started her career in SAP when she was 20 years old working as an admin. She worked herself into a development role and benefited from the support she received from her male colleagues. “I quickly grew a strong interest in the development world and have spent most my career in the development organization. I’ve had many mentors and coaches along the way, most of whom were males who have inspired me, challenged me and supported me in growing my career. The opportunities are endless!”


Liz Thorburn

And also Barbara Lewis, a marketing executive in Palo Alto, joined from Altiscale, a company SAP acquired 9 months ago, recognized the support and the opportunities female colleagues have in SAP. “I am continually impressed by the strength, intellect, and creativity of the women at SAP, across all manners of areas of responsibility – engineering, sales, marketing, support, and so on. You can tell that the organization is working to overcome social boundaries and encourage all talent to blossom and be recognized.”


Barbara Lewis

Sindhu Gangadharan, Product Manager in SAP CP integration and orchestration stated that “As a woman working in the technology area I take great pride in being able to work with a very diverse team of experts located in different parts of the world. For me personally located in Walldorf, Germany and having the possibility to work with technology experts on cutting edge technologies like IoT, machine learning, microservices and so on, makes my job very interesting and fun too. I believe in creating my own brand and not looking for somebody else to do that for me. As long as you excel in your work and can drive impact within and outside your organization I personally do not believe that it matters if you are a man or woman.


Sindhu Gangadharan

Jenny Lundberg, Product Manager in Palo Alto, for SAP CP emphasizes that it is important from her perspective to be uncompromisingly true to our own strengths. She said: “I bring my own leadership style to the table. This, in turn, helps me identify and foster the individual true and core strengths of my direct reports, which is what diversity is all about. I have been in management at SAP for more than 17 years and have consistently been appreciated by my teams for my ability to foster empathy and to inspire the best in individuals, and to build consensus and cross-team collaboration among the wonderfully diverse people of SAP.”


Jenny Lundberg

So, coming back to the initial question, if Björn’s statement is just talk or reality? The colleagues who participated perceive their organization as open and fully utilizing the different advantages a diverse team can add. Although all are positive about the opportunities for individual growth they nevertheless recommend in general, independent of gender, to not hold back but push for your individual goals and stay true to yourself. There is a solid foundation in CTO & SAP Cloud Platform regarding gender diversity, and the senior leadership team has already signed-up to ensure more action is taken to build on this foundation. The next topic we are planning to review and discuss with CTO and SAP CP colleagues (male & female) is working time flexibility. If you are interested in providing feedback, please approach Kathrin Kapp.

 

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2 Comments

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  1. Jeremy Good

    I enjoyed reading the great stories and experience highlights!  The honor of working directly with a few of the colleagues above, makes me especially proud to work for SAP and know that my employer celebrates a diverse team spirit that showcases how we are better together.

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  2. Divya Rajagopal

    Thank you.I loved the sheer simplicity of the advice that each colleague, mentioned in this article had to give. If I may add my little share to this , I guess it would be that women need to develop the quality of being “unabashedly unapologetic,” in whatever they say/do, and this is something I am consciously trying to imbibe myself. How many times have we, as women, started a sentence by saying “I’m sorry, but I have a different point of view.” It’s not about being brash but about standing mighty tall for what we think and say.

     

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