Personally, this is my dream job because I am able to apply all of my skills and thereby make a difference. At SAP I found my professional home.
When Christoph got his first job as an audio engineer at a regional broadcaster, he felt very excited about the role. He loved working at a radio station, but missed opportunities to expand his skills and unlock his potential. He also found himself struggling under his manager’s leadership. He wondered if there were companies with thriving cultures where good talent would happily stay and grow with the organization.
Firm in the belief that you can’t change how people treat you, but you can change how you react, he went on to major in business psychology with a minor in digital media to keep his passion alive. At university, he discovered a love for statistics and empirical research, which led to a master’s degree in psychology that allowed him to further his interest in data and analytics.
Studying at the University of Mannheim in Germany, he soon learned about SAP, one of the biggest employers in the area. Curious about the company and its culture, he got a chance to visit its headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, when a professor arranged for a few students to experience a 4-day design thinking course at its offices.
Visiting the SAP campus and meeting the SAP team was an eye-opening experience.
People were creative, friendly, and welcoming. He was impressed by how relaxed and casual everyone was, even the senior leaders.
“It was clear that the SAP people I met were serious about their work, but they were also real, open and human. Everyone brought their unique personalities to work and embraced different perspectives,” says Christoph.
“I knew from that moment that SAP was a place where I could belong and thrive. So, I started to network. And then one day I was randomly looking at open roles on the career site and saw an interesting internship at the tiny SAP office in my hometown Hamburg” he says.
After applying, Christoph got an interview with Antonia Zorn and her manager at the time.
“I still remember my interview with Antonia. It felt so natural and I had never been that relaxed in a job interview before. It confirmed the feeling I had whenever I met any SAP employee” he says.
He was hired as a full-time intern to support Antonia in running the Innovator Challenge program, a 6-month learning program for SAP employees to get hands-on experience with the latest cloud technologies.
“This was a big challenge with so much responsibility on my shoulders. The Innovator Challenge had just kicked off. I had to send out communications, get into the SAP Business Technology Platform, coach seven teams, and so much more,” he shares. “I was fortunate to have former Innovator Challenge interns and Antonia provide guidance and support.”
“The experience was invigorating because I always felt like I had an unusual background. But for the first time I could apply all these skills – creativity, design thinking, programming skills, psychology, and even audio engineering — to create a superior learning experience for SAP employees,” he says.
The internship flew by and Christoph excelled. Just after three months with SAP, Christoph was offered a full-time position.
“I feel really lucky that I found an amazing position with SAP and have a great team. I was empowered to go for it, and didn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t,” says Christoph. “I am truly grateful.”
One of the biggest lessons Christoph attributes to Antonia is to never be afraid to directly approach anyone for help.
“People always replied and that is one of the things I really love about SAP. How much people want to help and support each other” he says.
The SAP Innovator Challenge has grown in a short period of time. It continues to provide a playful environment for employees to experiment with new tech that they might have heard about, but have not had a chance to try.
Within the program, employees sign up and get assigned to a team. They then get to work with the team for six months to gain and apply new knowledge by creating working technical prototypes. In the process they grow their network, form bonds and learn something new.
The same could be said of Christoph’s time at SAP.
He says, “Personally, this is my dream job because I am able to apply all of my skills and thereby make a difference. At SAP I found my professional home."
Meet Antonia Zorn, one of Christoph’s colleagues who concepted and started Innovator Challenge. Antonia is the Global Head of SAP Innovator Challenge.
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