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Anka Wittenberg

SVP, People Sustainability, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

My advice – know your strengths, be clear and committed, and have confidence in your ability to drive change.

Anka Wittenberg

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

While my story begins in Germany, I am proud that it spreads globally as I have had many experiences both professionally and personally that have brought me to where I am today.

I had the opportunity to go to school in California a teen. During my education, I found myself feeling uncomfortable as I was the only European at the school and English was not my native language. However, it was during this period of my life that I learned what it was like to live outside of my comfort zone, how to manage that experience effectively, and most importantly how to be confident in myself. This experience rooted my belief in the power of inclusion and the amazing things we can accomplish when we feel a sense of belonging.

After returning to Germany, I started my own business when I was 21 – an American tennis camp for kids, which was a lot of fun. I left to pursue a master’s degree in economics. While studying, I married and had three children and am proud to say that although I had started my family, I was still able to complete my degree along with peers who had started at the same time.

As a mom, fresh out of college, with three kids to support, I’ve had to learn to prioritize and juggle multiple roles – the most important one was being a mother to my kids. For me it was key to find a supportive work environment, allowing a flexible schedule. I accepted a position and spent many years working for a Fortune 500 company where I learned the power of strong processes, as well as the fundamentals of inclusive leadership.

Later I became the CHRO of a family-owned business. I was responsible for the HR strategy for 25,000 employees in the steel and automotive industry with business in Latin America and the U.S.

About seven years ago, I accepted a position at SAP because I saw the potential a strong technology company must truly drive change and have an impact on the world of tomorrow. I love to work with passionate people who motivate me to make a difference and deliver programs that have impact, which I found at SAP.

In March 2013, I was appointed Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, still reporting to the CHRO. In this role, I lead People Sustainability for SAP, which includes global health as well as diversity and inclusion. My team sets SAP’s strategy and goals around gender equity, cross-generational intelligence and support, culture, race and LGBT awareness and equality, and the integration of differently-abled people into the workforce. The business leaders, starting from the very top, help drive the strategy within the regions and board areas so that every employee is treated with fairness and respect, has feelings of individual value and belonging, and the opportunity to be inspired.

For people who want to make a difference, SAP is the right place to be in this fast-changing world we live in as we help the world run better and improve people’s lives. When we support diversity and inclusion, we are not just doing it because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it favorably impacts people and businesses across world. We have progressed from a vision to a very real, practical, and sustainable solution, and I am thankful to be a part of it. Each day I wake up with the motivation to positively affect peoples’ lives whether it is our employees, customers or partners, and to create meaningful impact through my work.

Outside of work, I try and live by the same values of diversity, inclusion, and social progress. I am the Chair of the Board of the World Childhood Foundation Germany, an organization founded by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden that defends the rights of children and promotes better living conditions for vulnerable and exploited children at risk all over the world. Also, I’m on the supervisory board of Westfalen AG, a family-owned company in the oil and gas industry.

When I’m not working or volunteering, I enjoy spending time with my family, swimming, practicing yoga, and playing tennis. When you look at my mosaic, you’ll see snapshots of various moments with my family – a recurring theme in my life. You will also see that I found love again with my husband Stefan and included a photo of me with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. A proud moment.

As a single mom with three kids, and the only bread winner when they were young, I truly had to learn to prioritize and wear many hats – that of a mom, daughter, sibling, HR executive, manager, and change agent – I learned to be resilient and move forward with a sense of purpose.

My advice – know your strengths, be clear and committed, and have confidence in your ability to drive change. This will make the world a better place for our children, men and women.


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