Strategic Customer Engagements Director for EMEA North
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The pandemic turned our daily lives fully virtual. I was already experienced in leading a diverse, multi-locational and fully virtual team and 2020 became about team spirit and we managed to steer the ship through the challenges by having each other’s backs. Despite all that happened to the world in 2020 we managed to hit our personnel expansion targets, while again increasing our portfolio coverage by two product lines. It was a year of making the impossible possible.
My SAP journey started in February 2013 as a part-time working student during the first year of master’s studies after relocating to Prague from my native Belarus. This part-time role introduced me to our finance organization, where I worked in the travel expenses department. My university graduation in 2014 coincided with an internal reorganization, so many new doors opened to me, which led me to HR. Many of us associate HR with recruiting and compensation, but it’s far more than that. My HR role was in talent development, a global team full of passionate individuals with one goal in mind – help our workforce grow with SAP. The best recollection is from our flagship project - the SAP Fellowship Program - which was launched during my tenure with the team and has become extremely popular with colleagues to broaden their skills and step outside of their area of expertise.
With two years in HR under my belt I decided I wanted to work closer with our customers. After all, that’s what SAP is all about – helping the world run better and improving people’s lives. So, in the summer of 2016 I moved to Cloud Renewals. This role happened to be the last one where I had to think ahead and plan my career. From that moment it just all came naturally as I had found my happy place.
The next two years were spent with the Ariba customer organization, where I was tasked with building up the commercial practice for SAP Ariba cloud renewals and our customers. At the time, no one in the industry spoke about customer experience or customer success yet. The whole organization felt like a start-up vibe within a big consulting and services driven company.
In 2018 I was asked to lead a Board-level project with an aim to streamline the SAP provisioning practice. This was an initiative to help both sides: SAP on the costs and compliance side and SAP customers on their system design. This project gave me my first virtual leadership experience, as we formed a team of five, where I was coordinating from Prague and my team was in the USA. As we went through over 800 global customer profiles end-to-end, I managed to obtain one of my most valuable skills to date – making complex tasks look simple!
As the project outcomes were well-received, a new challenge arrived in the early days of 2019 in the form of an offer to lead the regional Cloud Renewal Center team. The scope looked scary but ambitious – exactly how I like it to be. The team was expected to grow from 10 to 30 heads in 12 to 24 months and was positioned to serve as the Center of Excellence and contract renewal engine for SAP customers in the EMEA & MEE regions. Challenge accepted.
Together with my leadership team, we managed to double the team size and expand our solution portfolio coverage from 3 to 6 product lines just in the first 12 months. Then the unexpected happened. The pandemic turned our daily lives fully virtual. I was already experienced in leading a diverse, multi-locational and fully virtual team and 2020 became about team spirit and we managed to steer the ship through the challenges by having each other’s backs. Despite all that happened to the world in 2020 we managed to hit our personnel expansion targets, while again increasing our portfolio coverage by two product lines. It was a year of making the impossible possible.
After 10 great quarters with the Cloud Renewal Center, I was offered to lead the transformational practice in SAP’s strategic cloud customer segment within the region of EMEA North. We are a global team of experts now with the ultimate goal to help SAP transform its commercial and cloud mindset and be best positioned to hit our ambitious corporate goals by 2025.
That’s where I am now, when sharing this story with you. If I were to conclude this with a sort of advice, it would surely be this: be curious and never shy away from a challenge. Your mind can surely make it work as no human is limited. Be brave!
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