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Empathy and self-awareness, the most important traits of a leader: SAP chief Deb Deep Sengupta

Shradha Sharma
posted on 1st September 2017
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In a chat with YourStory, Deep talks about how his company’s culture to be empathetic to customers and employees has helped SAP’s growth in the country.

Deb Deep Sengupta, President and MD, SAP India, has his priorities for his company as well as for himself as a leader very straight. Ask him what he believes is the job of the head of a company, and pat comes an analogy on ‘player-coach’: essentially a coach who leads from the front but one who does not hesitate to get his hands dirty in the field with his players every once in awhile.

SAP’s plan for India is clear; the enterprise software multinational wants to not just make efforts to increase growth and rake in profits, but the company wants to create a social impact as well.

Stressing on the concept of ‘growing through giving back’, Deep says, “Social impact should not be just for NGOs. There is no point if the company cannot be empathetic and create social impact.”

Among its many initiatives, what stands out is the company’s digital literacy programme, in partnership with its many customers including ITC and L&T — to provide tech knowledge to rural youth, women and specially-abled people in all parts of the country.

But what is the company doing with startups? Deep elaborates: “We have an entrepreneurship development programme with IIT Bombay and Ahmedabad. We also have a big facility in Bangalore and Gurgaon, which has a startup studio, where people can come in, meet with mentors and can bounce off ideas. SAP taps into its global network and provides access to portals and systems. Also, we give access to private equity and venture capital fund. SAP has a fund called Sapphire Ventures. We look at interesting ideas and do select M&As to be part of our portfolio. We also to connect with PEs in our network.”

Deep makes a passionate case for technology-led companies, pointing out that all the flak they receive for not creating jobs is misplaced. “E-commerce and aggregating companies have created 1.3 million jobs in the past five years,” he adds.

Deep, who has an 11-year-old son and two dogs, follows the same rule of empathy at home as well, often looking from his son’s point of view when he is backed into a corner. 

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