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Have you ever talked to your mother about what hurdles she faced in her career? Growing up I was regaled with stories of job offers dependent on negative pregnancy tests, having to make the hard decision between a career or a family, and accepting lower pay than male colleagues of the same level.

 

I started with SAP as a Project Manager leading implementations of our SaaS software. I now lead the team as Director of the Project Management Office for SuccessFactors. As a people manager in mid-career, I’ve begun to take inventory of my growth within SAP thus far and my goals for my future. But I’m also thinking about the generations behind me – it’s my responsibility to pave the way for young women to enjoy long careers in technology. If you’re anything like me, when you understand where SAP is now and where it’s heading as a company for women, you’ll want to call your mother.  That’s what I did a few months ago after I joined SAP’s Business Women’s Network.  Our conversation went a bit like this:

 

“Mom, remember when I told you about what SAP is doing for Women in Leadership?”  She did not remember.  In fact, she had heard from some of her retired friends that SAP was a a slow moving enterprise, definitely not innovating as quickly as Google or Amazon. She wasn’t aware that SAP had completed not one but two salary reviews to ensure that women were paid commensurate with male counterparts. My mother wasn’t aware that SAP had a goal of 25% of leaders being female – and the goal was reached over a year ago, well ahead of schedule! This is a paradigm shift not only for women but for our male counterparts as well. It’s refreshing to experience the warm support and reception from my male colleagues. They have told me that this was a long time coming, and they’re welcoming our full vision.

 

“Can you believe I’ve worked here 8 years already?” When I chose to join SAP, it was difficult for some of my friends and associates to understand how SAP’s offerings would be congruent with a career in technology leadership. So many Silicon Valley firms seemed more nimble, sexier, and more youthful.  But I’ve come to learn and appreciate that here at SAP we are encouraged to reinvent ourselves to stay relevant. Our SaaS offerings and Cloud Platform are the best of breed, but that’s not our magic. Our magic is in our people and in those who maintain a standard of excellence.

 

“Look at the Success Stories!” I could talk for hours about women who have grown through the SAP ranks to become leaders. Successful and effective leaders like Jo Morrow out of Australia, who earned her way up from a Project Manager to leading SAP SuccessFactors Cloud Services in Asia Pacific and Japan. Or Annemarie Smit, who leads EMEA South for DBS S/4 Hana Cloud. I could tell my mother about colleagues like Frances Gartzke who moved with SAP to Chicago after she was selected to be part of the Executive Shadowing Program. But my mom reminds me of my own success story – my involvement with the SAP Social Sabbatical which took me to Kenya for a month. There I and eleven of my fellow SAPers from around the globe worked with female farmers who used microloans to build their empires.

 

“You always pushed me to lead change, Mom.” Now I’m doing it.  Our Women’s Network isn’t just about meeting other female leaders. It’s about growing as people, as a team, and as a community. We have women’s networks across SAP, and I’m most proud of the work being done by the Cloud Business Group. With eleven female leaders representing five continents and five business units we have a diversified network of women who are decision makers, mentors, and visionaries expanding our thinking. Our Business Women’s Network is sending folks to speak at conferences, to attend training, to receive executive coaching, and to join small groups of women focused on expanding our roles within the company. My appreciation goes out to our Board Members and Executive Leadership like Rob Enslin, Michael Kleinemeier, and Jen Morgan for their forward thinking related to the changing face of the workplace.  Closer to home I must recognize my manager, David Blondot, whose leadership team consist of 45% women, and our Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Carlos Granda, whose leadership team is 50% female. David and Carlos don’t support women because it’s in vogue – they truly believe in it as the right thing to do.

 

SAP is not the technology firm of yore. We’re quickly advancing into the future and paving the way for others to build upon our technology.  Women will be leading a majority of this, and we’ll be doing it together as a community. Call your mother.  Let her know that your future is bright here at SAP. And if you’ll be at SuccessConnect September 11-13, I hope to see you!

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