Soccer team in a huddle

Making Cycling a Way of Life at SAP

October 2, 2015 by Cheryl Smith 11

I started bicycling to work in 2008 and discovered that it was my favorite means of transportation. One day, I had an idea that SAP should support bike commuters the same way they subsidize train and bus riders.

I created a four-page PowerPoint and met with the precursor to today’s SAPsv department. I thought that was end of it. My naiveté now makes me smile.

A few weeks later I was asked to organize a Bike to Work day. Over 150 people responded. We were surprised at the enthusiasm. People began referring to it as the “Bike Club” when it was really just a distribution list. My colleague and another cyclist, Scott Lawley, sent me an email and asked what the mission of the club was. I remember smiling at that — the truth was I had no idea, but I saw potential.

After a long lunch discussion with him, we decided to invite the campus to a brain-storming meeting. People who attended that first meeting are still active in the club seven years later, such as Stephen Kerr, another founding member.

I am amazed by what the club has since accomplished. We have over 330 on our distribution list and we welcome all levels and types of riders. Bike commuters in Palo Alto are now offered a monthly subsidy. Virginia Panlasigui annually organizes a robust Bike to Work day Energizer Station partnering with Tesla. Lately the club has focused on fostering a true Team SAP spirit through charity rides.

Our rides have routes from a few miles to over a hundred miles. Our teams have grown from a few people in random attire to over 30 for each event is matching SAP jerseys. Our SAP jerseys are literally worn by employees all over the world.

The Tour de Cure is our flagship charity ride. In the 7 years we have participated we have raised over $75 thousand to cure diabetes. This year Team SAP had two teams – one in Palo Alto and one in Philadelphia. President of SAP Platform Solutions Steve Lucas, who is himself a type one diabetic, is an enthusiastic executive sponsor of this event. The team also rides in the Canary Challenge for the early detection of cancer, a cause close to our CEO Bill McDermott’s heart.

This year, SAP is the premiere sponsor of the Cycling for Veterans ride. SAP Silicon Valley is excited to honor veterans in this East Bay Ride on October 17. SVP of Data Management Richard Pledereder has stepped up to be the executive sponsor. Diane Nguyen is captaining a team of over 40 riders! This is also the Cycling Club’s project for Month of Service, SAP’s annual global volunteering initiative. If you would like to volunteer or ride with us, refer to the Cycling 4 Veterans on Jam page for details.

Personally, working with the Affinity Groups has made me a much more fulfilled person. The people in these groups have some of the biggest hearts on campus.  We are changing the world in big ways through small steps at a time.  Whenever I have a question about the SAP world outside of my work assignments, these are the first people I turn to.  Through the club I’ve been able to practice lean and agile thinking, build a business plan, present to executives, use social media and much more. Currently, I also serve on the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s board of directors and continue to study transportation from a bicyclist’s point of view.  I encourage everyone to find a group and volunteer!

This story originally appeared on SAP Community Network.

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