Sindhu Gangadharan of SAP Labs India on people-centric innovations, being a woman in tech, and more

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One of the few women to have risen to the top at a global organisation like SAP, Sindhu Gangadharan started her journey as a woman in tech in the early 90s. In a conversation with YourStory, she shares her learnings.
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Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD at SAP Labs India, is one of the very few women to have risen to the top of the tech leadership ladder at a global organisation such as SAP. She started her journey as a techie in the early 90s.

“When I joined SAP in 1999, as a software engineer, I was introduced to the incredible possibilities of using technology to find solutions to problems that help the world run better, '' says Sindhu, in a conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory.

Sindhu shares that her parents wanted her to study medicine. However, in her early school days, she saw Bengaluru emerging as a technology hub.

“Back then, I was totally blown away with what technology could do to drive the world and make it a better place for all of us with much more convenience. These thoughts had a huge influence on my choices and also how I envisioned how my career should look, until today,” she adds.

Sindhu SAP Labs India

Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India

Leading teams across the globe

For Sindhu, her career at SAP has been one of the most rewarding experiences in her life.

“When I joined SAP in 1999, the company was just setting up base in India and was a much smaller name in this part of the world. We were just a team of 150 people working from Bengaluru,” she reminisces.

Two years later, she got the opportunity to move to company headquarters in Germany, which opened up a plethora of opportunities.

“It helped me hold several strategic, as well as leadership roles. I transitioned through different product management related roles as well. And this gave me the opportunity to collaborate across teams at a larger scale across global teams,” she adds.

She specifically remembers her role as Head of the Intelligent Enterprise Program at SAP wherein she had the opportunity to work across SAP’s lines of business bringing people together and also consistently using technology across different lines of business.

“That role also put me into a lead position to bring to life SAP, its vision, and strategy of the intelligent enterprise because it was all about orchestrating those end to end process roadmaps and really bringing those insights and value to our customers,” she says.

Sindhu stayed in Germany until mid-2019, returning to work with SAP Labs India. “If I narrow it down, I think what keeps me going and what keeps me always excited is when I can get people together to work on a common cause and work on something bigger, and larger,” she adds.

Product thinking at SAP and the road ahead

Sindhu emphasises that SAP focuses on building solutions to help the world run better; Intelligent Enterprise continues to be its core business offering.

The company focuses on four key things while building a solution — a people-centric product approach, using data in an intelligent manner, serving business on the basis of micro-experiences, and value engineering.

At present, Sindhu is working at SAP Labs to enhance capabilities to bridge COVID-19 induced gaps. This includes helping companies in their journey towards digital process automation by building capabilities like workflow management, flexible processes, end-to-end human experience management, and more.

SAP Labs India is also working with enterprise tech startups in India, as part of its SAP Startup Studio initiative launched in 2017. So far, 33 startups have been incubated, of which 18 are currently co-innovating with SAP.

“Startups are much more nimble, agile, and faster, clearly making them more appealing to work with. This also resonates with my own personal style of working. Particularly, enterprise tech startups are much more open to experiment with emerging technologies,” she says.

Empowering each woman

Talking about the women techies in India, Sindhu believes women are clearly scripting a lot of unprecedented success stories in the tech domain.

“These are stories that inspire many generations to come,” she says. “The kind of inspiration that not only gives you a seat at the table, but also a voice to be heard. Also, the kind that helps this generation of women to believe that dreams can come true.”

“Through every possible opportunity I get in my capacity, I invite more and more girls and women to join the tech industry and experience this beautiful tech revolution firsthand,” she adds.

Sindhu believes women need to empower and support each other, and even more when it comes to women at a certain position of power and privilege.

“I feel there is a huge role and a bigger responsibility to set the stage for young women to chase their dreams and goals completely in in an uninhibited manner,” she concludes.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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