How SAP Attracts Young Talent

September 18, 2013 by Torsten Falk, Cathy Ward 0

Tim Noble with early talents Jillian Wildgoose and Paul Clements. Foto: SAP

Tim Noble, Managing Director at SAP UK & Ireland with young professionals Jillian Wildgoose and Paul Clements. (Photo: SAP)

SAP’s customers are changing, and there is a fundamental shift towards the end-user becoming the decision maker of the future. Thus, talent acquisition has to be focused on hiring and building a team that understands this target group and can fulfill its needs, both today and tomorrow. To maintain and expand its market leadership position in the software industry, SAP must constantly adapt its workforce for future requirements.

Young talent is a critical part of this pipeline, increasing the diversity of talent at SAP in the areas of gender and age. The goal is to ensure that the company attracts the best talent while developing and retaining talent from within.

Creating a university network

SAP Global University Alliances is building a strong talent pipeline by engaging with 1,350 universities – around 80% of the top institutions worldwide. The recently-launched Early Talent Ambassador Program provides a network of young talent within SAP, not only to act as role models, but to engage with the universities to raise the profile and build the SAP brand to attract the workforce of the future.

Next page: Combining work and study

 This story is part of our special focus on human resource management. All the articles related to this topic can be found here.

The early talent team, in cooperation with the SAP Global Sales University, has designed an accelerated learning program focused on inspiring SAP’s young talent and increasing the time to productivity in order to deliver fast business impact. “As a result of suggestions brought forth by some of the graduates, we actually redefined some of the core processes for operating in sales,” summarizes Robin Manherz, Global Vice President of GCO Business Growth Initiatives.

Dual system of work and study

Vocational Training at SAP is a global program that enables early talents to participate in a dual system where they combine work at SAP and study at university. With this program, SAP recruits, trains, develops, and incorporates early talents around the globe, e.g. in Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Switzerland.

“SAP’s vocational training is a very successful opportunity for both the students and the company. It allows us to incorporate more than 80 percent of our graduates into SAP and helps the company to meet business demands,” says Markus Bell, Head of Vocational Training at SAP.

Next page: How employees learn from each other

Early talent development means investing in people at the start of their careers to inspire young professionals. “SAP’s people development strategy is based on the philosophy that everyone is a talent,” says Tracey Arnish, Senior Vice President Talent Experience. “We are looking at each individual employee and working to understand both their potential and the direction in which they can develop. This of course also applies to early talents at SAP.”

In addition to focused career development planning, SAP gives early talents learning opportunities by developing close working relationships between young professionals and experienced employees within the company. An example is job shadowing. During the recent People and Diversity Week, early talents shadowed executives throughout a regular working day, including at customer meetings, internal meetings, and conference calls.

When graduates teach experienced employees

Experienced employees can learn from young professionals, too. During “Reverse Mentoring”, traditional roles are swapped around: junior employees take on the role of mentor to their more experienced co-workers and give advice on a subject where they have strong knowledge.

Next page: Advice on social networking and smartphone apps

In India, a new “iMentor” program puts graduates in the role of mentor to SAP managers. Technology, e.g. the use of smartphones and apps, as well as social networking were identified as key areas of expertise for the graduate hires and provided focus areas for targeted mentoring sessions. Graduates had the opportunity to network with a senior person and get closer to SAP’s business and strategy, and managers learned to build their social media profiles and use their smartphone more effectively.

App for the streets of London

Tim Noble, Managing Director of SAP UK & Ireland, had a similar experience when he was shadowed by the young talent Jillian Wildgoose. To get to several meetings in the city of London, Tim and Jillian walked instead of using public transport. On their way through the city center, Jillian discovered the London Citymapper app which helped them find their way. “To meet with a young professional like Jillian was a great opportunity for me to learn more about mobile apps. From now on, I will use the app that she showed me to plan walking to all my meetings while in the city.”

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