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Yana Mileva

Senior Support Consultant, Digital Business Services

We are all part of one SAP family.

Yana Mileva

At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.

Growing up in communist Bulgaria, I was not aware of different educational opportunities or subject biases between girls and boys. Because of how the system was structured, my science and technical subjects enjoyed a 50-50 split between genders, even at university level. After I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in Sofia, I decided to pursue my Master’s and subsequently my PhD in Germany to gain international experience and to explore the world outside my home country. In the nine years pursuing academia, I noticed the gender imbalance in STEM fields as I progressed. Thankfully, this is changing.

I’ve always been drawn to technical subjects, and when I joined SAP in 2012 as a support consultant, I discovered an environment that I could thrive in. Compared to the lonely route of PhD research, it was refreshing to work closely with a tight-knit team, meet different customers, solve challenging problems and travel the world.

Technology has transformed, and technical roles are no longer limited to programming. Working in technology can be extremely purposeful. For example, SAP’s 1 Billion Lives program invites employees to contribute ideas and build solutions that can change the lives of 1 billion people. At SAP, technical knowledge goes beyond the theoretical; you can make a real impact on our customers’ businesses and the world around you.

Diversity and inclusion is key to a great organization and high-performing teams. This extends to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and even background. In my team of support engineers, there are individuals who hold degrees in biology, psychology and other fields unrelated to computer science or engineering. The beauty of SAP is that you don’t necessarily require a technical degree to perform in a technical role; all you need is a willingness to learn and the determination to succeed. Everyone brings something different to the table, and that’s what makes us stronger.

Recently, I completed a six-month Diversity & Inclusion fellowship as part of our consulting division. One of the key initiatives I worked on, called ‘Advocating Men for Parity’ (AMP), aims to educate and create awareness among male managers and colleagues about gender inequality and unconscious bias, and show them why it’s important to move the needle and how. Often, we find that managers and all other people are not malicious, simply unaware. The impact of awareness extends far beyond our organizational boundaries. These are men who are fathers, brothers and friends, and I believe that the status quo will shift with every generation of men who are advocating parity for the women around them.

SAP is doing our part to educate women of the opportunities open to them, from graduate-level to management. We invite girls from high schools and universities to visit. We have great programs for mothers. The culture is very flexible, inclusive and family-friendly, and everyone can contribute to a positive working environment. As a certified Zumba coach and hypnotherapist, I’ve conducted exercise classes for colleagues and trained them on mindfulness and meditation techniques. There is a culture of sharing and friendliness that you must experience to believe. We are all part of one SAP family.

You will often hear advice from people, that to progress in your career, you must move from company to company. In SAP, however, you often find individuals who have been here for 10, 20 or 30 years. And within that time, they have held varied roles in different departments. SAP recognizes that people develop different interests over time. We are all human, and not everyone wants to do the same thing for decades. The opportunities are endless and my career is just evolving – here at SAP.

 

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