Finance Associate, Global Finance Rotational Program
At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, join SAP.
You can often judge a company by the welcome you receive.
In 2017, I joined SAP as a Finance Associate in the Global Finance Rotational Program. As one of many newcomers to an organization that employs thousands of people across the world, I didn’t know what to expect when I flew from Singapore to SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, for my onboarding. Would I like the people I meet? Would I feel lost in a crowd?
I needn’t have worried and was blown away by the warmth and hospitality extended to me. In Walldorf, Tanja Hentschel, our program manager, invited us to her lovely home for dinner. Dr. Toni Thielen, Head of Global Finance & Administration Academy, personally made pizza and lasagne for the occasion, while Tanja’s husband spoiled us with desserts. I did not expect an invitation to my manager’s home, nor a senior leader cook dinner for us just one week into the job. It felt like I had been welcomed into a family.
It is no coincidence that a home-cooked meal resonates with me. Living in the city-state of Singapore, the 3 ‘Fs’ that matter most in my life are family, friends and food. Singapore has no national parks or white beaches. But what we lack in natural resources, we make up for with cuisine. Our favorite pastime is having great conversations over a delicious meal, whether in a hawker center or in a fine-dining restaurant. Food is an undeniable passion for Singaporeans, and eating out together with friends and family is part and parcel of everyday life.
The fourth ‘F’ that I am diving headfirst into right now is finance. The SAP Global Finance Rotational Program is a 20-month program divided into four practical areas covering the four main pillars of finance in the company – Field Finance, Corporate Finance, Business Network Group and the Shared Services organization. On top of hands-on experience, there is a rigorous learning curriculum, on-the-job training and two international experiences in other SAP offices. There is guidance and support at every step of the way.
What I like about SAP is its flat organizational structure, and its friendly and people-oriented culture. In team meetings, every team members’ opinion matters regardless of rank or seniority. ‘Coffee Corner’ sessions – casual gatherings where people are free to ask leaders questions on just about anything – are regular affairs. My 1-to-1 meetings with my manager are similarly relaxed, and I am comfortable to share my thoughts and opinions freely. Open dialogue and knowledge sharing is a big part of our culture.
There is a lot of heart at SAP. If someone is in need, many will raise a hand and come to their aid. Recently, a colleague’s daughter was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. Her only chance of survival depends on identifying a suitable stem cell donor. Over 2,200 SAP colleagues signed up for the stem cell drive and senior management was fully behind the campaign. It was utterly moving to see so many people wanting to help.
I recently attended a transformation agent workshop. During the session, the facilitator asked me: “What is the first animal that comes to your mind when you think of SAP?” Without a pause, I answered, “an elephant”. The other participants named animals, such as a rhinoceros, a blue whale, and a grizzly bear. It was interesting that we picked large animals, as if all of us acknowledged that SAP may not be the most agile or nimble company due the sheer size of our organization with over 90,000 employees worldwide. Another characteristic that these animals have in common is that they are all extremely powerful. Yes, SAP is powerful – 77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system.
But the main reason for my choice is that elephants are known to develop strong, intimate bonds between friends and family members. They are not solitary animals like a jaguar or tiger. Like elephants, SAP is an empathetic organization that truly cares for its people. Here is a popular African proverb, but edited with a small twist: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, join SAP."
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