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Yaad's Story

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

I constantly had the drive and ambition to learn new skills which resulted in getting new responsibilities. I sought out mentors in departments totally outside of my organization, and researched fellowship opportunities.

Yaad  Oren
Chief Strategy OfficerT&I Strategy and Operations

Sitting in my home office in the Bay Area in the early morning hours, having just finished walking my dog in the dissipating fog and about to hop on a call with one of our Board Members, I can’t help but think about how much my life and career have changed in the last 15 years. In 2005, I was an engineering student at Tel Aviv University, anxious to put the skills I was learning in class to practice as an intern at one of the many tech companies in Tel Aviv. In my third year I attended a major careers fair on campus, with more than 120 companies represented, one of which was SAP. To be honest, I hadn’t really ever heard of SAP. After spending a good thirty minutes with one of the recruiters, it’s safe to say SAP had my attention. The recruiter’s focus wasn’t on telling me the company’s perks, the stellar benefits packages, or what type of salary I could expect when I graduated. Instead, she talked about how the complex business problems that SAP solved for customers – for example, how their software optimized supply chain problems, improving the movement of goods around the world. Safe to say I was intrigued and joined SAP as a student intern shortly thereafter.

This intern role paved the way for my entire career trajectory at SAP. Yes, I was an Engineering student with a focus on technical skills, but I had equal passion to learn and understand business strategies. It takes just the right type of managers and the right type of company to nurture these disparate skill sets, but SAP is just that type of company. My intern role at SAP was on the portal team, where I installed web products but also conducted competitor analysis. This quenched my thirst to merge technical work with more strategic business strategies. In my next role, one of my managers encouraged me to further broaden my horizons. He said “look you are a technical guy, why not move to development for a while to get the experience? Build products, be hands on.” So I did just that.

By 2012, I was the Chief Product Manager, managing a team of 13 people in both Israel and the US, working directly with customers, partners, analysts, and internal stakeholders. It was the best of both worlds: because I had taken on that developer role, I knew how developers thought and could speak their language, but also knew how to define products, manage large scale customer projects and present to C-level stakeholders. I was traveling a lot, but it was so worthwhile to me, because I was doing exactly what the recruiter in 2005 had told me we do at SAP: solving customer’s business challenges. It was exhilarating.

I constantly had the drive and ambition to learn new skills which resulted in getting new responsibilities. I sought out mentors in departments totally outside of my organization, and researched fellowship opportunities. In 2014, I got the perfect opportunity after a five minute conversation that I had with SAP Chief Strategy Officer during SAPPHIRE. Later this year, newly married, my wife and I moved to our US headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania for a 6 month fellowship in SAP Corporate Strategy Department. To say it was a culture shock is an understatement – going from the warm and sunny weather in Tel Aviv to freezing, snow filled winters in Pennsylvania is not easy, for us or our poor dog, who did not understand how to walk on the icy sidewalks!

My fellowship paved the way for a new role in 2015, Sr. Director of Technology Strategy, based in our Bay Area offices. Another location move, another departmental move. I felt comfortable making these from city to city but also between different Board Areas because I had the support of my current managers and the teams I managed to grow outside of my immediate role. This is not unusual at SAP. Employees and managers alike understand that to meet the needs of our customers, we have to have a breadth of understanding and a large knowledge base to solve their complex challenges. I’m currently in a Chief Strategy role for one of our Board Members, helping to shape the future of SAP technology strategy, from defining what’s next to our platform products to working with start-ups and entrepreneurs to invest in their new and innovative products and ideas.

I have always traveled quite a bit in my role. I still speak to students at universities back home in Israel, and in the Bay Area, because I am an SAP Ambassador. My advice to students is based on my experience: expose yourself to as many areas of your company as possible. It doesn’t have to mean you switch jobs every 1-2 years. Find a mentor completely outside of your comfort zone. Gain support from your manager and seek out fellowship and professional development programs.

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