Because I have been a traveler all my life, instead of asking how am I, people generally ask me what my next destination is. And lately I am surprising everyone by responding, “Mexico City, Mexico.”
You see, I come from Bangalore, India, and Mexico does not feature in our top 10 countries to visit, not even the top 20. So the assumption is that since I have already visited all the popular destinations, I am starting to pick and choose the obscure ones. And then I reveal that I am actually away for a month. On a Social Sabbatical.
And that is when the conversation gets interesting. Everyone wants to know how to get selected for a project like this. And I say, it’s open to every one in the organization, but the preparation starts really, really early.
Be an SAP Catalyst.
The first step in this process is to be nominated as a catalyst. And to do that you really have to perform beyond your daily job, be an outstanding contributor, and convince your manager and leaders that you have the ability and desire to continue to grow, make greater contributions, and assume greater responsibilities. And that does not happen in a day. You have to consistently be a top performer.
Once you are nominated as a catalyst, the floodgates of opportunities open. And although there were excellent programs around thought leadership, mindfulness, and personal branding, most of which I diligently took part in, I was waiting to apply for the SAP Social Sabbatical for Global Engagement program.
Prepare for the Selection Process
When the call for applications came on the 1st of April, I dedicated a lot of time writing my statement of purpose, a 2000 character essay explaining what motivated me to apply for the social sabbatical, and another essay describing what skills and competencies I hope to bring back to my job at SAP as a result of participation in the Social Sabbatical. I kid you not, it was a cathartic experience for me. Try putting down in your own words, why you love the job that you do, why you think you are the first among equals in this extremely talented pool, and where you want to see yourself in 6 months time. It makes you look deep down inside and ask yourself very important questions. Updating my CV was one of the best things I have done in years! Listing down my achievements, highlighting my awards, reliving my moments spent volunteering, it’s an exercise that does wonders to your confidence.
Just submitting the essays gave me a sense of elation because it was a task well done. And it bore the desired results. I was shortlisted for the telephonic interview that was conducted by PYXERA Global, the global implementing partner for the SAP Social Sabbatical portfolio. I was asked to select a 30 minute time slot between May 20 — June 14. I am not sure why I was in a hurry but I selected the first available slot on May 20. Talk about being over enthusiastic! 🙂 I also believe in Eat that Frog. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. I figured that if I have to get it done, doing it the earliest would help me concentrate on everything else in my life.
I went into the interview very calm, determined to be myself and do well. It turned out to be quite tough with situational questions that we typically face in a real job interview: What is your experience of handling a rude teammate? What did you do when you had a difficult person to deal with in a project, and how did you overcome it? What would you do if your scope of work changes after you meet your clients? Most of my answers were from experience, some I had to really think hard and respond. But it was a nice, friendly discussion.
One Step Closer …
Early July I received the email that I had been waiting for. I was selected to participate in the SAP Social Sabbatical for global engagement 2019–20 program! And it was even more exciting to know that the location that I was assigned to is Mexico City, Mexico. I immediately opened google and typed Mexico City.
It was love at first sight!
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of meetings, travel preparations, new friends, new clients, a whole lot of learning, and a general sense of floating in the air.
♫ ♫ ♫ ♫
I will try and jot down all my experiences, and I hope that you all will be a part of my journey.
Tonight I leave for Mexico City, and I cannot keep calm.