Ann Rosenberg joined SAP 14 years ago, fascinated by the world of technology. Since then, her professional journey has been marked by her indomitable spirit and a commitment to make the world around her much more meaningful. How does attitude, determination and curiosity shape a professional journey? We chatted with Ann Rosenberg to find out this and more. –Edited excerpts:
Growing with SAP
14 years ago, when I joined SAP, I had no technology background, but I was fortunate to get a job as it was the beginning of the technology wave and all the large players were hiring aggressively. I was 28 when I joined SAP in their Denmark office. I joined the sales team. I was fascinated by all the amazing and innovative things SAP was doing. Early on, I got a chance to work at a large consumer business for SAP implementation. Also, I was fortunate that SAP sponsored my business education while I was working with them. I did my MBA from Scandinavian International Management Institute. During this phase, I realized that working on business processes and process management was something I really loved and enjoyed. I heavily specialized myself in this area and grew to become the Global Practice Head in SAP for business process management and business consulting. Through this, I got an opportunity to work with clients all over the world. I helped hundreds of companies drive process excellence. I also wrote two books on business process management. That phase was extremely gratifying.
At SAP, if anyone feels that they are ready to move laterally or take on new challenges, it is an open discussion. I love that about SAP.
Recipe for happiness
To grow you need to work hard. But workplaces like SAP help you do it your way. I travel a lot due to my role and my teams are distributed all across the globe. I travel about 200 days a year, but when I am not travelling I work from my home in Denmark. And that helps me balance. When I am at Denmark, I teach three times a week — I absolutely love teaching and interacting with students. I also get to spend quality time with my boyfriend. I have a global team, so sometimes I have late night calls. But during those days, I can also start late in the morning. So I get to switch around and play with my schedule. Even if I work a lot, I do it my way, and that keeps me happy, and keeps stress at bay.
Taking SAP to students
My current role is very close to my heart. As Global Head of University Alliances, I work with 1400 universities and thousands of students across the world. For us, it is important to develop the talent for tomorrow. We are introducing the students to the SAP ecosystem so that they can build the technologies for the future. The mission is to rebrand SAP and take it closer to the student community. It is about changing the way students perceive SAP. Many people think SAP is an enterprise system, but it is much more than that and we are taking this message to young people across the globe.
Everything is possible
I have this naive belief that everything is possible. I believe that for every problem, there is a solution. Also, I can’t do the same thing again and again. I am always looking for the next big thing, and I am very mission-driven. I feel that if people have passion, and they are on a mission, it makes you run, and makes you wake up every morning. Passion and mission let you inspire other people and make you work with other people. I think two things have worked for me, one is my drive and passion that everything is possible and, of course, hard work — there is no substitute for that.
Staying relevant in the changing world
Rethinking your business model constantly, rethinking your go-to-market again and again, is how big companies stay relevant. At SAP, we really focus on design thinking. It is mandatory for everyone to take design thinking classes and have design thinking coaches. We want the fantasy back in each and every person who works with us. Today with the advent of new and personalized social technologies, solutions are not cookie-cutter anymore, we need to personalize everything. Also, it is important for new age professionals to grasp IT and business side of things very thoroughly.
Women in tech
I come from Denmark, which, I would say, is still a very traditional environment. Maybe not as much as India, but it still is traditional — where men have high aspirations and women stay back at home and take care of the children. I would say that I have been very fortunate all the times to have managers who trusted me, so I never had to hold back. However, today for me, it is a personal passion that SAP should be the most wanted workplace for women to seek employment. Our goal is to become the employer of choice for women technology graduates. It is a hard challenge, but we are working with women right from the university stage to get them excited about technology and the SAP ecosystem.
IT is just right field for youngsters
What is exciting for everyone involved with IT is that once in every 10 years or maybe 5 years, things change dramatically, and right now is one such time. So it is great for young people to work with IT companies. And every company is looking for the new mindset that young people come with. We need to have a mindset where everything is possible and everything can be done, and young people are wired that way. There are no limitations in IT today, and this is the right field for young people to start their careers in.
Never give up
Never give up. Everything is possible. You will always have people who will make things difficult for you, but you just have to find another way around it, and you can do it. It is always good to have ambition, and have passion for what to do. Don’t think about the fact that you are a female at work, I am not saying don’t bring your feminine side to work. In fact do bring your feminine side to work, but consider yourself a true professional and be yourself and be ambitious is what I would say.
Ann Rosenberg shines and stands out with her attitude, spirit and a commitment to make the world around her much more meaningful.
– along with Varsha Adusumilli
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