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Author's profile photo Lillie Gallagher

Career Journey with…Eszter Csapo

Introduction

The global Partner Ecosystem Success interns were once again lucky enough to be joined for an informative Career Journey session by a Partner Ecosystem Success leader on the 14th of December 2022. This time our guest was Eszter Csapo, who is a COO Business Partner in SAP’s Partner Ecosystem Success organization in the PES Chief Operating Officer’s office, based in the East Coast of the United States. Eszter leads the overall Partner Ecosystem Success Go-To-Market globally, bringing strategy to life in our regions through the Ecosystem Operating Plan, driving operational excellence centrally to ensure our ecosystem runs at its best. She was more than happy to take us on a journey down memory lane, alongside an abundance of career advice gems we will be taking with us down the road!

“I started to embrace the power of being a generalist. People can look up to you by knowing a bit of everything.”

The Journey

Eszter was born and raised in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. There, she spoke Hungarian, a language that is not spoken by anybody else in any other country. Eszter’s mother was the first to realize that she would need to learn English better than how they teach it in the Hungarian primary schools. And so, when she was 15 years old, her mother said to her on a Friday that “On Monday, you’re starting in a new year in secondary school in Ireland”. It’s important to note that it wasn’t a language school, Eszter joined a normal, all girls school where they wore uniforms which was already different culturally to Hungary where she was in a mixed school with no uniform. This would change the trajectory of Eszter’s future, acting as a catalyst for decisions down the line.

“That’s how I learned English, which is very important component of my career. And then I ended up learning German, French, Russian and all other languages”

Growing up, Eszter always knew what she wanted to be a judge. It was something she felt incredibly fortunate about. Up until two days before the deadline for submitting your university choices, she realized only one thing was stronger than her wish to be a judge, and that was her desire to live an international life and being a judge wouldn’t allow that. Through her experience, you study business when you don’t know what you want to do, which is exactly what she did. She studied International Business in English in Hungary and realized she really enjoyed the business world. This led her to specialize further through a Masters degree. Due to her prior stay in Ireland, she decided to enrol in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in Dublin studying Organizational Development and Change Management.

“I learned a lot through cultures and other people, through their languages as well.”

“Who am I?”

After completing her Masters, Eszter felt she was at the same crossroads she encountered after secondary school. She asked herself “So who am I? I had 2 degrees, studied for five or six years and I still don’t really know who I am”. On paper, she was an economist, but she struggled to relate to just the theoretical knowledge. Through her studies she had very little work experience. She knew she needed to put the theory into practice and start working to gain the confidence to stop second guessing her abilities.

The description for the internship outlined an incredible opportunity to work with the Managing Director, Chief Finance Officer and the HR Director. When she secured the internship, after numerous rounds of interviews, she knew there would be a chance for it become a permanent position. From day one she was straight in the deep end, working at a fast pace. She was comfortable in this environment from the time she arrived at school in Ireland with little English. She knew how to stay afloat.

“So, I was very careful not to abuse this trust and to live up to it. And I really wanted to do well, not necessarily just for me to do well, but for them. To show them that they trusted the right person. That it was the right choice to believe in me.”

After about two years in that position, she moved to London to work as an executive assistant of a line of business that was the start of S/4HANA Cloud. She built her network in London and ended up getting an opportunity across the floor for EMEA N. The COO Chief of staff was looking for a predecessor and thought of Eszter before the position was ever on her radar. This was her first big jump. If she had seen it on the career’s portal, she wouldn’t have applied for it. She wouldn’t have believed she was ready. This highlights the importance of networking and building strong connections within your community. It allows people to see your potential and offers you opportunities.

From here, Eszter wanted to broaden her experiences beyond Europe. She found a position similar in Singapore:

“You don’t necessarily need to stay on the same path and just move upwards on the career ladder when you join, because SAP is so massive. It’s full of opportunities and other businesses within SAP.”

Top Five Tips

As Eszter was thinking through her journey prior to the call, she wanted to summarize it and came up with five bullet points. The first point that came to mind was “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”

Her second point would be being open to all kinds of networking to non-work-related activities. For example, when she was in Singapore, Eszter volunteered cleaning Nursing Homes with an LoB regional president. You meet new people and places at times you wouldn’t even expect, inside and outside work. Eszter relies heavily on her network, reminding us that that is how she ended up in this position.

Her third point is to take all types of opportunities. If she had never learned languages, she would’ve struggled more to get to her position now. “Opportunity seldom drops itself on anybody’s doorstep. You really need to go for it. You need to go look for it and sometimes you even need to hunt down these opportunities. Without them, you might not develop as much as a person.” She learned through her Masters degree that “the only constant in life is change. It’s a great skill needed in today’s culture to have the ability to adapt and be agile”

“We say it in Hungarian; [Opportunity] is not just going to fall from the sky into your lap.”

Her fourth point that she has definitely used throughout her career is to listen to your gut feelings and instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, you must act on it, even if you can’t explain it.

Last, but definitely not least, Eszter has learned to live with no regrets.

Q & A

By the end of the session, we had run out of time to host our usual Q & A session due to the wealth of knowledge provided by Eszter. However, Carlos Flack (iRecruiter for LAC), took the opportunity to email Eszter after the call with a question of his own. He asked “When searching for new possibilities within SAP, it isn’t always easy as there are so many different opportunities. Do you have any advice on how to find a position that best matches your abilities and knowledge?”. This is something I’m sure we can all relate to or have related to throughout our SAP journey. Eszter’s response was equally as insightful as the advice given on the call.

She believes finding the available (and right) opportunities is a combination of a few of factors:

  1. Build your network within SAP by participating in the many initiatives within the company
  2. Keep an eye on the Internal Job Portal and approach the recruiter or hiring manager when you see something you’re interested in. “Never forget, it’s not just you looking for the “right” role, it’s the hiring manager along with the recruiter looking for the right “fit” or talent.”
  3. Reach out to colleagues who had been in the position (that you are eyeing) before. They can be found on LinkedIn or from the recruiter
  4. Leverage career couching/development sessions available through SAP Learning.
  5. Speak to people who really know you (and are honest!) and can approach confidentially about an opportunity that you are interested in. Tell them the skills needed for the role. See if they think you tick the boxes of a good few of the required skills.

Conclusion

We’d like to thank Eszter for joining us for this incredible session, which was filled with so much great information and useful advice that we can all look at and apply to how we approach our own careers. It’s clear that everyone was able to take something away from the call – here are some pieces of feedback directly from our interns following the session:

“Eszter was a fantastic speaker, and it was very encouraging to hear from somebody who was willing to take risks moving to different countries within SAP’s capacity. It was also a great real-world example of how crucial networking is in our roles at SAP.” – John Concannon (Partner Activation & Experience Specialist)

“It was a wonderful session. it was amazing to know about her journey of growth and success within SAP. her info. on how to build network both local and global was incredibly helpful.” – Vidhi Bajpai (Partner Experience Delivery Associate

“I really enjoyed the call and the content about Ester’s career path. I think the call was very inspiring, especially for the women in the meeting.” – Julia Gomes (Partner Experience Delivery Specialist)

“I found the Career Journey with Eszter very inspiring. Eszter’s story showed that hard work and dedication results in a successful career. Her journey is also a testament to the career opportunities available on the SAP career path. I found it enlightening to discover the importance of networking. Ezter’s career journey showed me that bravery and putting yourself outside your comfort zone is very beneficial in expanding your business skills as well as leading a fulfilling life.” – Liam O’Sullivan (IXP Intern)

Thanks for taking the time to read our Career Journey blog! If you’d like to stay updated with the next instalment of the blog, make sure to follow either myself or our Global Career Journey tag, and we encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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