At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
Being in HR, I have career discussions every day. One of the most frequent questions I always get is, “how can I manage my career?”
Careers can take many turns over time and there is typically no one perfect way to navigate your career. It’s a unique combination of interests, strengths, performance, ambition, life events and opportunities. The advice I always give is: be agile, know what you want and why. Agility is one of the main reasons we can grow, innovate, and move forward in life. A person’s career is defined by several magical moments and many times it’s the most difficult moments when you grow the most.
I think I first learned agility in my first job waitressing at a diner in the small town I grew up in. As a teenager, I was able to handle high volumes of customers, multi-task across several functions and learned how to read people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Though challenging, it was a great experience which taught me how to be agile mentally, physically and emotionally. Through my constant interaction with people, it also enabled me to quickly develop my sense of emotional intelligence.
I believe that emotional intelligence is not something that is just good to have, it is something that often differentiates an average employee from a great one. Career growth still and always will depend on the ability to make connections and inspire the people around you. It’s about building relationships and making key decisions. Thanks to the valuable and eye-opening experiences early on, I was able to start making decisions about my future and set my sights on my education & career. And I had the courage to take on more and more!
Fresh out of college, I started my career in a Human Resources consulting firm with a move to Philadelphia with excitement and hunger for learning. The company I worked for had a defined career path set for us: perform and progress. It was a very rewarding and empowering environment that I enjoyed.
It wasn’t until later, that I questioned the path and I questioned how I could continue to add value to employees and create an environment for their succes. I felt there needed to be a shift from the narrow focus on the next promotion to a broader focus on everyone thriving. I decided to take control of my future and ask myself what I want from my career and why. I knew I had to do more to represent employees and help them with their careers. That’s when I joined SAP.
I started in North America Total Rewards applying all I learned about line of site rewards and performance from my early days waitressing and consulting. I volunteered for critical projects and stretch assignments whenever I could, or where there was no one to support. By doing this, I was able to build a strong network, meaningful relationships, and ultimately what we now call “sponsors”. What I didn’t realize at the time was this was the recipe to build a personal brand and a career that allowed me to continue to take leaps.
SAP has always been in high growth mode, which I love and this allowed all talents to grow exponentially across the world. For me personally, I had the privilege to experience new and expanded roles every couple of years testing me every day to be agile and grow. These local, regional and global experiences helped me obtain the credibility and competence to take on larger complex issues. I took different turns along the way from being a leader to an expert individual contributor and took 3 lateral roles to gain the experience I lacked. The biggest leap I took was with my family accepting a loosely defined role in Walldorf, Germany when I was 8.5 months pregnant with our second child. We quickly moved our healthy baby boy and a high energy a 3-year-old daughter to Walldorf. There were 100 reasons why I could have declined the offer but I was agile and knew I needed the global experience and wanted our family to experience another culture. It was a magic moment that was a catalyst for my career.
Keeping agile takes resilience and I ask everyone to take inventory of your career and reinvent yourself. I truly owe it to those who believed in my abilities and my potential. I believe others will take risks on you if you are willing to take risks yourself. Get in front of trends or themes and have the agility, skills and competencies to withstand any innovation, any generation, or any change.
Here at SAP, careers are based on an interest in life-long learning and self-development. Continue to take on different opportunities and add value in a different way. Take on a fellowship. Take on a global role. Take on a project that cuts across lines of business. Show you are flexible, adaptable, and have the emotional intelligence to continue to learn. I’m 20 years into my career and I am amazed every day what I continue to learn and so appreciative of the talented people I work with at SAP.
I know it’s natural to ask yourself “Do I have a future here?”. Whatever your background, I can assure you that at SAP, you do have a future here. I encourage you to explore what is out there in this great Company. Talk to people in positions you aspire to be in or create a role where this is a gap. Challenge yourself every day. Ask your leaders: “What can I do to help you today?”
As a leader in SAP, my top priorities are attracting, retaining and growing talent; helping align personal goals with career ambitions; and getting key talents ready for bigger and broader roles. I work with leaders on accerlerating development and finding the roles that make them thrive. Seeing others taking leaps via new challenges, learning quickly, and exceling in their role, this is what makes working in Human Resources so worthwhile!
At SAP, we believe that everyone is a talent. You are empowered to determine your own career path and SAP provides you with the tools and support to navigate it. Making a career decision today does not dictate the direction for the rest of your life. You will change. And you will change again. But remember, always be agile.