Career Journey with… a Twist!
The global Partner Ecosystem Success Early Talents were once again lucky enough to be joined for another Career Journey session on the 15th of March 2023. This time with a twist! Our guests included Stefanie Kruijen and Felicia Lee, and was hosted by the amazing Patricia Nance. This was an incredible opportunity to hear from three strong women, all at different stages of their careers. They were 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!
“As a tip to everyone that starts out, dedicate some time to each of your roles. I commit to at least two years to show management the outcomes I can create for them…” – Stefanie
Having been in the company for five years, acting now as the Regional VP and leader for global strategic partners, Patricia Nance is nothing short of an inspiration. She’s responsible for driving and accelerating the SAP strategy and focus on the Global Partners in the APJ Region. She kicked off the session with Felicia Lee, our very own Early Talent representative.
Felicia joined as an intern during the height of the pandemic in November 2020. She is a regional Partner Business Management Associate and the Southeast Asia Digital Partner Recruiter for Singapore, Vietnam and Emerging Markets. She has already contributed greatly to regional PES operational excellence. Felicia first heard about SAP through mentorship programs. With tech being her dream industry, she was hired by Eszter, who has inspired her on her journey within SAP. Life in SAP has been so much more than she was expecting. She has had the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally by understanding herself better, allowing her to excel in work.
“I realized I had to be very intentional with my actions… if you don’t ask, the answer is always no”. – Felicia
Stefanie joined SAP in 2011, after working for six years in an international bank. Originally from Belgium, she began her SAP career in Barcelona and has clocked up some impressive airmiles having worked from Europe, to Australia and now Singapore. Sales was her first entry point into the SAP, despite her lack of experience in the IT sector. She started with mid-market sales and went into solution sales. In Australia, she got the chance to work in sales for ARIBA and the ISBN solution, ultimately leading her to a customer success partner role. A milestone for Stefanie was her opportunity to receive a regional role. Currently she has the chance to bring work and passion together through leading Sustainability for PES.
A common theme we see within the Career Journey series, is that a career is rarely a linear path, that continues to go straight up. The same can be said for Stefanie. She recounts how she moved horizontal quite a lot throughout her journey. The incredible take away from this, is the broad base and understanding of every element within the company structure
“That’s one of the really important learning experiences, build your network as you go. Use that network to help you find your way and your path”. – Stefanie
Inspiration Goes Both Ways
A key moment from this call, was witnessing three different women, at three different stages, from three different backgrounds view each other as equals. Each of them listened to everything they had to say with intent and respect. One of my favourite moments from the call, was Stefanie saying to Felicia that ‘inspiration goes both ways’, that no matter your age or your experience, your thoughts and ideas are valued.
A way we can all continue to inspire each other and ‘be open to meet people’, as Patricia mentioned, is through the many incredible networks available to join within SAP. Common misconceptions about communities like the Business Women Network is that it’s just for women. But in reality, there are men joining these events too. The sole aim isn’t to just create a space to empower women to take more speaking opportunities, or leadership roles. It’s to inspire everyone to work together and elevate each other in these positions, because we need to support others in that space.
There are more networks like Pride and Diversity and Inclusion spoken about on the call. The amazing thing that these women highlighted was the fact that SAP employees can dedicate so much personal time into these initiatives, on top of their regular day-to-day tasks. Getting involved has never been easier. With the Pandemic, we were all brought closer together by having everybody on the same level, on a computer screen. As a result, the likes of APJ and Europe are more in contact than ever before. Even in APJ alone, there is a time difference of 5 and a half hours between New Zealand and India. It proves that networks can be built and joined from anywhere. Even if they’re not colleagues in your immediate team, you may work with them in the future. Covid-19 created a common understanding and empathy towards each other in terms of home and the different cultures that we live in
“You think you know someone from a screen, but when you actually meet in person, you discover there’s this whole other dimension to them that you had no idea about”. – Patricia
Mistakes Are Here to Stay…
Felicia summed up every early talents thoughts on mistakes perfectly, saying:
“I thought that the more experience I got in a role, the less mistakes I’d make. It was quite surprising for me to learn we are prone to still make mistakes as humans, which is a good thing”.
To which Patricia responded “It never stops, don’t worry, it never stops. Never.”
Everyone fears making a mistake at some stage in their career. We believe that if made, we are deemed less skilled at our job, or unfit for the role. When in reality, mistakes are a learning curve, a way for us to move forward whilst continuously improving with every attempt. Sometimes a career move doesn’t workout, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s an opportunity to focus on something new with everything you learned about yourself from that experience. Those words from a women as impressive and driven as Patricia, should stand as a stark reminder for everyone when met with an obstacle in the future.
A simple tip to avoid certain mistakes was given by Stefanie: “Try not to assume”. We work with a lot of different teams and diverse types of people, and make assumptions on what may or may not be happening, which can result in derailing our own path to fit the assumed outcome. Instead, ask the questions and receive the feedback with an open mind. There’s a strong chance that within a global company like SAP, you’re going to move around teams and countries. These new environments will equal to new mistakes. Feedback helps you to grow and learn about the people around you. This is a key element of a diverse team. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to being a team leader. By understanding our differences, managing a team becomes easier and more fruitful. If you can crack that nut, and have the ability to offer different support to those who need it, you’ve really achieved something, because no two people are the same.
Another top tip, is to not take feedback personally. This is most important for your well-being. Instead of taking feedback as a negative, or that you’re doing something wrong, look at it constructively. If you’re the one offering the feedback, be mindful of your delivery. Ensure you’re structuring it in a way that the other person will be able to take it all in. We all have our own experiences that can help the next person. So be open to listening and learning.
Fearless but Mindful
The take-away that FIona Monne summed up beautifully at the end of the call, is to be Fearless but mindful. This was evident in many ways throughout the call. Fearless to take a chance, but mindful of the journey ahead. Fearless to receive feedback, but mindful of its recipient. Fearless to lead and inspire others, but mindful of our differences. Patricia knows the importance of risk. In her experience, if you’re not afraid of a career move, then it’s not the right one for you. If it was all easy and you don’t feel like it’s going to be difficult, well then you’re not actually progressing.
“That was something that someone taught me early on. You gotta go for things you might not be able to do, otherwise, you’re never gonna get ahead”. – Patricia
Felicia has struggled with self-doubt throughout her career. As an Early Talent, and something many of us can relate to, there’s that feeling of a need to prove yourself and your worth to the team. When in reality, we all contribute in our own special way. For those of us struggling with the same pressures, instead of being fear driven, be goal driven. Know what it is you want, know your career aspirations and that way you can bring value to you and the tasks you complete. By communicating with your team and knowing their KPIs, all your hard work and energy can be focused in the right direction, allowing you to draw boundaries and prioritize your work. This again ties in to not assuming. Understanding what the team needs, and how it can relate to what you need is a powerful tool.
“SAP is about people. It’s always about people, in peers and building relationships, and listening, and learning always. That’s the absolute fun of it”. – Patricia
We’d like to thank Patricia, Stefanie and Felicia 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:
“It was a great session hearing about Patricia, Stef, and Felicia’s career journeys – each of them are at different stages of their career but are all so passionate about what they do. It was definitely inspiring and I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside such awesome colleagues in APJ!” – Beatrice Tan (Partner Ecosystem Success Demand Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan)
“It’s great to see that women are doing great at their positions, Stefanie Kruijen, Felicia Lee and Patricia Nance’s sharing really empowers me that I, as a woman, can also have great opportunities to achieve what I’m dreaming of. It would be fabulous if we can continue to have more sessions and invite more women from different regions, jobs, cultures and more to share insights and experience.” – Katherine Zhang (Partner Experience Manager – Digital Demand Gen)
“This session was insightful. We got to hear unique perspectives on the achievements and challenges of three individuals who came into the working world in three different time periods. As well as the commonalities among those perspectives.” – Jordon Lee (Demand Research Associate)
“I found the session quite engaging and informative, as Stefanie, Felicia and Patricia are at very different stages of their careers and come from such different backgrounds. As a female in tech, I found this inspiring and it has given me a role model to look up to. If such sessions could be done with more female colleagues in future, it would be appreciated for sure! From interns, to early talents (Like Felicia), to working mothers, to people more advanced in their careers (Like Patricia and Stefanie), and even hearing from Stefanie on how she used to work in another SAP office before coming to Singapore. I hope to see more of such sessions!” – Andrea Tan (Programs Lead, Midmarket APJ)
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!