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Being a woman, born in Africa and of Indian decent, I am proud to work for an organization that embraces multiculturalism and diversity.
A simple email invitation in 2016 was all it took to change the course of Neel Plahe’s life.
It was an invitation to attend a half-day show-and-tell session at SAP’s office on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.
"My story is a reflection of SAP’s culture," she says, as she looks back on what ultimately turned out to be a pivotal decision to travel all the way from the city’s eastern suburbs to attend the session.
"I was born and brought up in Kenya," she says. "I lived, studied and worked there my whole life. I was 35 weeks pregnant with our daughter when my partner and I and our six-year-old decided to migrate to Melbourne permanently."
At the time in 2013, Neel had a high-profile job with a multinational company in Nairobi. But they packed up their lives in just two weeks before moving continents. After arriving in Melbourne on June 16, they barely had enough time to set up house before their daughter was born two weeks early. As she says, the first few months in the new city passed quickly as they had a precious newborn to look after.
"I had already started to apply for jobs in order to get the ball rolling. However, about eight months after we arrived in Melbourne, I decided it was time to really get back into the workforce. So I started to seriously apply for jobs, and I literally put in hundreds and hundreds of applications. To my surprise and dismay, I got no positive responses. I could not understand why no organization would hire me, even though I had 15 years of experience under my belt working for top-notch organizations in East Africa. I kept getting the same response, repeated over and over again - I didn’t have any Australian work experience."
Three and a half years later, when she had almost given up hope of ever finding a job in Melbourne, the invitation arrived in her email inbox.
"As I walked onto the 15th floor of the SAP office I took a second to take in the incredible view and in that moment I made a silent wish… ‘Wow, it would be nice to work here’."
"That day, I met Peggy Renders, who was one of the presenters. After the presentation, I walked up to her and boldly asked her what it would take to get hired at SAP. She took a few moments, gave me her undivided attention and asked me what my background was, where I had worked and what experience I had. She convinced me to apply for an open position at SAP."
"When I got called in for an interview, Peggy Renders was my hiring manager. She interviewed me, embraced my culture, recognized my potential, although no one in Melbourne had done so for three and a half years. In just two weeks I was hired! Being a woman, born in Africa and of Indian decent, I am proud to work for an organization that embraces multiculturalism and diversity."
And yes, she still takes time to admire the view from the SAP building, just as she did on that first day, when she made her silent wish.
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