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Hirofumi Suzuki

Managing Director, SAP Japan

Hirofumi's Story

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

There is a culture here whereby we want to be much better tomorrow than we are today.

Hirofumi Suzuki

Hirofumi Suzuki’s childhood dream was to become a lawyer, not just because he wanted to help people, but because he was determined to reinforce the sense of justice.

Instead, after three decades in the IT field, he believes that rather than simply strengthening justice, he can contribute in a meaningful way towards a healthy national economy. Essentially, his sense of being able to make a real difference has taken on a much wider scale.

"I really believe SAP can provide very important support that Japanese companies need. This will enable them to become global companies in every sense of the word or to transform themselves in a way that will catalyze a more vibrant national GDP. Much more than the salary that we get paid, I truly believe that the things that really matter are the roles that we do here and the purpose that this company embodies.

"I joined SAP in 2015 and this is the greatest place to work. I realized immediately that this is where I belong. Not only because of the solutions we provide but because of the culture of this company. There is a willingness here to challenge ourselves constantly in our professional careers and the real benefit of that is that we don’t just contribute to the future of the company by doing so, but that we also improve themselves in the process. There is a culture here whereby we want to be much better tomorrow than we are today.

"This unique culture is special to me. If we face difficult decisions, we always follow our priorities. The first priority is always the customer. The second priority is SAP. And the third priority is my LOB. Following these priorities is the key to our decision-making processes. Making the right decisions at the right time is all about maintaining these priorities. If I make a decision on that basis, nobody will ever reject it. We have a strong foundation and we constantly build on that. If you have the correct culture, decisions will always be made in the most appropriate way.

"Motivation is a very strong driving factor here at SAP. Most of the people here have incredible motivation when it comes to supporting customers or contributing to their success. I must mention something significant here. Our true heartbeat is not just limited to contracts or profits. The central goal of customer satisfaction is what really drives us. That is our heart.

"My best customer experience came when we sold retail solutions to a regional supermarket chain in Japan. Their CEO, a very passionate person, told me, ‘The reason we chose SAP is that I’m already 85, but I want to establish solutions that will still be relevant for us in ten years’ time or in twenty years’ time. I’m not just looking for something that we’ll use for one year or two years or three years. I’m looking for something for the future. That’s why we have to invest in the duration of SAP’s solutions and we trust you.’ It was a great validation of what we do at SAP, but that’s not the end of the story.

"A year later, I have to admit the implementation was not going so well because the go-live date had been delayed by six months. But the next time I met with this CEO, the venue was a Japan Supermarkets Association conference party. There were many CEOs and many C-level executives there. It was like a Who’s Who of Japanese retail companies. He was the chairman of the Japan Supermarkets Association, so he made a speech and after that he sat down at the main table. I went to him and said, ‘I’m from SAP, thank you very much for your commitment.’

"He stood up and slapped his hand into mine – it was a gesture of joy. He shook my hand vigorously and said, ‘I’m so happy to see you. I always trust SAP.’ That really was a major point in our history, especially because he said that in front of so many CEOs who were present.

"He told me that when his company signed with SAP, they were told by other leading businessmen, ‘You’ve made the wrong decision. You will surely fail. You’ve invested a lot but you’re wasting your time.’ But now, he said, all their warnings had been proved wrong.

"That was a great moment. It was such a powerful example of empathy and positive feedback from a customer. When something like that happens, it prompts us to commit any resources possible in order to meet the expectations of a customer like that."

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