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Author's profile photo Alexandra O'Shea

I am Inspired!

I was listening to an All Hands Call and the numbers for how SAP’s Women in Leadership statistics started flashing on the screen. 34% of Women in leadership – amazing! That’s a steep incline from 2016 when I started with the organisation. How proud was I to be a part of such a progressive company, yet, in the same thought I wondered why hadn’t this happen sooner, faster? As my mind wandered down this rabbit hole, I looked over and saw a book that I had been attempting to read for years – A faded blue copy of Women & Power, a Manifesto by Mary Beard. Not weathered by age, but neglect. It’s life beyond the bookstore had consisted of laying on the bathroom shelf, waiting for when that opportune moment to explore Its pages on a whim if any… there it lived for a while, until it migrated to my work bag, then to the car getting tossed around as enviably one does in a child filled household, then finally moved to the back garden. There it lay for a time, heated under the early spring sun, and warped by the hazy mist at night. It gained a new colour and developed scars and wounds, its pages curling despite never been properly read and understood. A whole novel untouched and unknown and as I gazed at it, I felt sad for this object – despite having no feelings of its own, I felt akin to it. How very similar could I describe my career progression, in my experience.

I had always believed that if I was present and worked hard things would inevitably work out, despite being too timid myself to ask for anything or voice what I wanted in general.  Perhaps like this book that has the potential to be more than just a forgotten object. What lay within its pages. What inspirations can it create? I don’t think I’m alone in these thoughts that run through a women’s head. Putting family, work and others above oneself… just waiting patiently to be given the opportunity to gift all the knowledge and lessons I have to others. Some few have this innate ability to navigate the workplace, where lesser mortals need guidance and someone to believe in them. Perhaps this is why InspireHer was created at SAP in the first place…

Created, curated, and facilitated by women. This was truly an initiative tailored to the personal and professional growth of aspiring women. This program engages women in peer mentoring and networking communities to support our own leadership journey. We were placed in a Circle of women who we might not otherwise have connections with, a way of expanding our network and understanding of differing female perspectives globally. In the main sessions, participated in activities, were given tools and not just theories and books, but the stories and lessons from our peers. In essence enabling the ability to look beyond ourselves and truly understand the impact that we have in this world. It was truly an amazing experience and impacted me a lot.

So, as I sit back and think about InspireHer workshops and conversations, I wonder, “Would I have gotten here without the program? Perhaps, but what I do know is that without this program it would have taken longer. Sometimes we need a little nudge or for someone to show us that we can achieve greater and simply believe in ourselves.  With all this said and as I signoff, even though we may feel weathered, downtrodden, and neglected, like perhaps like my book feels, we are worthy of inspiring and being inspired. Now it’s time to finish my book!

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