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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Angela Mazza

September 28, 2016 by Susan Galer 203

Angela Mazza, chief operating officer of the SAP Middle and Eastern Europe Region and member of the executive team at SAP, knows how to set up a software system, but would much rather talk about the value it brings to people and organizations.

Her career trajectory reflects that passion, from her first position in hotel management to becoming a software consultant, then assuming senior leadership roles at SAP.

Born in Italy, Mazza developed her inner resilience early on when her family moved to Switzerland when she was eight years old, instilling her with a migrant’s ethos of achievement. After fulfilling her original dream of a career in hotel management in her mid-20s, Mazza switched gears to an IT consultancy before joining SAP 13 years ago. Now based in Germany, she’s risen through the company’s sales ranks across Europe and the Middle East, moving into leadership positions in SAP’s cloud-based computing business.

It’s easy to understand why. This is someone who once waited 17 hours in front of a senior-level government official’s closed door to catch the customer’s signature on a strategic sales deal at 3:00 a.m. in the morning just before the business quarter closed. In this exclusive interview with SAP News, Mazza discusses why success is not only having career goals but having the passion to pursue them, how diversity goes beyond gender, and the guiding principles of her life and career.

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Painting is a tremendous creative outlet for Mazza.

Traveling to live in a different country and culture when I was young…

Wasn’t easy, and I always felt like I was a migrant. I was forced to learn so much, so fast at an early age about surviving. Knowing where you came from spurs you to always strive for more because you don’t want to go back.

Technology has always fascinated me…

But not because of how it works – because of the value and benefit it brings to people and business.

My three work principles are…

To take action and make it a reality, act with passion, and never act without a goal and specific plan. In other words, don’t wait for something to happen. If you’re passionate about a topic and keep your goal front and center, you automatically inspire others.

My advice to women considering a career in high tech is… 

To be open and curious, looking beyond coding and not to shy away from senior leadership positions. IT is a thrilling industry with a wide spectrum of opportunities.

When it comes to diversity, it is…

Not only about gender. I’ve always been supported not because of my gender, but because of what I’ve delivered. SAP puts a lot of trust in its people to make decisions and support their dreams. Whoever has the right qualifications should get the job regardless of gender, culture, sexual orientation, religion or anything else. If we’re open to that, we can achieve more. I have a very diverse team, and it is incredible to see how creative and powerful you can be with that approach.

Mentoring for both men and women is…

Important but I’m not convinced women should only mentor women in a male-dominated industry. We want to learn from men and be part of their world. I regularly mentor both men and women, and it’s amazing what they give you back. Sometimes men can feel left out of the conversation yet they have a critical role helping create a diverse culture.

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Mazza is working on her private pilot’s license, and enjoys flying with her husband to golf and vacation.

Everyone has to find their own work/life balance by…

Making conscious choices about how they spend free time. I fly airplanes with my husband who has a pilot license, golf with him, express my creativity through painting, and have fun with my goddaughter.

One of the most influential roles models in my life has been…

Richard Branson, who knows what no limits means. I’ve read his books on how he overcame dyslexia to achieve so much today. The other person who inspires me is SAP CEO Bill McDermott, and how his passion for achieving our mission and strategy motivates all of us. He’s very positive, and you can feel his willingness to win.

Follow me @smgaler

Top image via Shutterstock

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