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Author's profile photo Heather Walker

Life at SAP in the Nordics – interview with Carina Tell

One of the great things about working in a global organization is having the opportunity to speak to colleagues around the world about their Life at SAP. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of women from all careers levels in the Nordics region about their careers, and what drives them. One of those women was Carina Tell.

Carina was born and raised in Sweden but has covered many countries throughout her career, having worked in the industry for more than 20 years. I spoke to Carina about how she came to join SAP 7 years ago.

“I got a call from my then hiring manager, who offered me a role I thought was very odd and I questioned the whole company for even needing such a role. We had some great conversations about it and I felt it was truly the job – and manager – for me. SAP as such didn’t play a big part in my decision, however knowing the size/market share and some former colleagues, partners and customers from my Business Objects days did support my decision.”

Carina’s role today means she is responsible for a select number if global alliance partners in the Nordic region, but her work at SAP is about more than just her day job.

“I have had some fantastic moments working in projects with women in senior management, from various regions, whom I coached and advised on carrier oriented topics. When you get an email saying; “I got the promotion, thank you for your coaching and help”, it’s huge! Equally, there has also female managers who in turn offered connections, opinions and in fact their life stories – their drivers and challenges. This exchange made a clear mile stone in my life; I then decided to sign up for coaching training with Erickson International, and got my certification in March. This learning is something I’ll always be thankful for and proud of, and resonates well with my overall purpose; supporting others to run (their job, life, companies, projects) better.”

And coaching is not limited to a leadership level. An important part of SAP is the culture blend within the business and how we use this to our advantage.

“There are several cultures residing in our company, which is a constant learning experience. It’s not just about the obvious different countries and regions that have other cultures than your own. Our broad age range provides a huge opportunity to engage in very interesting exchange. I encourage people to take the opportunity to explore reverse mentoring. Once you reach my age it’s easy to think you know it all, you’ve been around. Now, seeking a millennial mentor will challenge that. Ask them how they would solve a problem of yours, what they would change if they could, how their perception of your actions resonates with what you want to accomplish. I firmly believe however it’s not at all about treating millennials like they need special attention, else they’ll not stay with the company, I don’t believe in that at all, we all need to collaborate, and truthfully people in their 20s lack experience. But they have ideas! It’s about broadening your communication skills, refining your actions, and never stopping being curious.”

With an important role, and her commitment to helping other female leaders, is it hard to strike a good work-life balance?

“Work-life balance is key for overall job satisfaction and outcome, and I’ve never felt any constraints, limits, or trade-offs managing my own time and whereabouts. I can choose my hours and locations to fit my job and my private life. Personally, I don’t mind working all kinds of hours and days, as long as I can take a few hours off should I want to go to the hairdresser, or leave early to spend some time with my daughter who lives in another city for her studies.
Off work there are two main themes; vintage and food & wine. I’m fascinated by the past in most areas, politics, culture, and how it moulded today’s society. Knowing your history is essential to understand today. Finding a 60s dress in mint condition for a bargain price or a collection of cocktail glasses from the 40s in a thrift shop is just bliss. But it takes time! Also, I read lots of autobiographies. Food and wine too! with no children at home who needs routines? my husband and I can use the city as our kitchen.”

Carina certainly makes sure she gets the most from her professional and personal life. I asked if she had any advice for people considering SAP as an employer?

“SAP is a place where you can choose to grow your career by exploring different lines of businesses, solutions, functions and even geographies. A hierarchical career can be somewhat outdated to many people today, not just to early talent. As long as you know what your contribution is and can articulate it, there will be opportunities. One thing to remember is that you are the captain, you are solely in charge of your next steps. There is a range of supporting assets available, but you need to plan, take action and execute – this can be challenging depending on where you come from. In my experience, SAP has the broadest offerings for growth, while the culture says DIY!”

Carina shared some great insights into her Life at SAP, and if you are inspired to see where you could take your career, click here!

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