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Cathy Ward

Global Chief Operating Officer, SAP Innovation Services

I am trusted to deliver the business and I have complete flexibility
where and when I work. I instil this culture with my team also and this
results in a more engaged, empowered and energised team.

Cathy Ward

 

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

Cathy has been with SAP for more than 10 years, having joined via the Business Objects acquisition in 2008.

“I was born in the north west of England and had always worked in the UK, until I moved to Tokyo in 2015 as a COO. I now split my time between Bath and the French Alps. My global role allows me the flexibility to work from any location – one of my favourite things about working at SAP.

My current role did not exist until a year and a half ago, as the SAP Innovation Services business was newly formed from Jan 2018 as a ‘start-up’ inside SAP to create new services based around intelligent technologies such as blockchain, IoT, Machine Learning and Data Intelligence. The purpose was to help our customers achieve their desired business outcomes by making sense of these new technologies, and build a growth business for SAP.

My role as global COO is to work alongside Maggie Buggie, the overall leader of the unit, and create the new business, operating plan, go-to-market model, portfolio and organisational structure to drive a profitable business for SAP in the innovation growth space.”

In her SAP career, Cathy has held a number of other roles such as Sales Manager, COO, Early Talent and Diversity Head.

“Throughout my career I have always worked in tech and sales, starting as a graduate at IBM and going through IBM Sales School through to small software start-ups. I then moved on to Business Objects and now SAP – so it’s something I have grown up with.

Tech sales is a predominately male environment; however, I see that changing. But just because it’s male dominated does not mean it has to be masculine. I have worked for many male leaders who embrace diversity, and who have been great mentors/sponsors driving high performance teams. Diverse teams are proven to create better performance than non-diverse teams – and I am certainly a huge supporter of this.

I am also a fellow of the Association of Professional Sales in the UK & APJ. This is a not-for-profit organisation focused on professionalising sales – and I am in discussion with many sales leaders focusing on the aspects of diversity of their teams in driving high performance.

Now more than ever, there is a focus on diversity – of which gender is only one component – as a strategic business imperative to drive higher performance. Our customers are diverse, so to serve them well, we need a diverse team behind the business delivering our offerings.

Success to me means driving change and creating the future. In my view, there are three really important aspects to my job: learning and development, fun and recognition.

SAP has absolutely enabled me to reach success time and time again. I love that our culture is focused on purpose, both for our customers and for our people. I love the 1 Billion lives program and have been engaged in these projects through the Japan Hakusan Earthquake Monitoring initiative.

SAP really invests in developing people with skills and work/ life balance. I have been on some fantastic leadership training as well as joined in on the SAP mindfulness practice. I also believe the flexible working aspect is fantastic – I am trusted to deliver the business and I have complete flexibility of where and when I work. I instil this culture with my team also and this results in a more engaged, empowered and energised team.

I am also a qualified executive coach – SAP invested in me to achieve my AoEC certification last year – which enables me to help others build up the confidence to achieve their career objectives and become great leaders.

What have been the challenges working for SAP?

“When I was COO in Japan, the cultural integration was a big challenge and the speed to drive change and results, frustrating. I remember thinking ‘great, the team is on message’ when they were nodding and saying ‘thank you for your recommendation’ but that basically means ‘no’ in Japan. Luckily, I had a coach who helped me understand these cultural differences, as well as mentors in SAP who had experienced Japan and could advise.”

This support system, together with buidling trust with the Japan team led to Cathy’s success in the role.

“Japan winning Market Unit of the year in 2017 was a great achievement., reflecting the brilliant work of our entire team – the commitment, hard work and long hours everyone put in. This was at the end of my COO role as we had rebuilt the business back to growth for the first time in 5 years! It was so fantastic seeing my team make this happen – together."  

Outside of work Cathy also has big goals.

“I love travelling the world, especially around Japan – the team always joked that in my three years there, I had seen more of it than they had in their lifetimes.

I love being outdoors, and together with my husband we have climbed mountains on every continent - from Mt. Fuji, to Machu Picchu to Tour Mont Blanc and this summer we will do the UK Coast-to-Coast Walk of 200 miles from west to east. Skiing is also a big passion, and yes, the flexibility I have with SAP allows me to have a work life balance for sure!”

So what advice does Cathy give to women looking at a career in software sales?

“Go for it! It’s an amazing opportunity to make a difference, to engage with your customers to drive change in their industry and business and create innovation with purpose – linking to SAP’s overall mission to make the world run better and improve people’s lives.”

 

 

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