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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Brenda Reid

February 1, 2016 by Susan Galer 120

Brenda Reid, Vice President of Product Management at SAP SuccessFactors, talks with SAP News about how diversity fuels disruption, why being data-hungry hurts companies, and what’s better than work/life balance.

Brenda Reid, Vice President of Product Management at SAP SuccessFactors, relaxes by hiking and doing yoga. Image via SAP.

A self-described third-generation Colorado native, Reid graduated from Regis University with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Development and Business Systems. She joined SAP SuccessFactors five years ago, originally leading product management for the company’s recruiting solution. Working from her home office in Denver, Colorado, Reid now manages the product team in the United States, Russia, Germany and India who develop software for the company’s world-class employee onboarding solution.

What I enjoy most about being in product management is…

The speed of change, which energizes me, as well as using software to solve business problems. Early in my career, I managed billing at a hospice, and one of the first things we did was implement billing software. Seeing how fast it provided so much value-add for the business was incredible.

A pivotal moment in my career was…

Getting laid off from my position on Thanksgiving Day. Although unexpected, it forced me outside my comfort zone in hardware, and fundamentally changed the trajectory of my career to focus on software.

I’m passionate about employee onboarding because…

It’s a process that touches everything from recruiting, goals and learning, to social and compliance. We’re building solutions bringing all those things together cohesively to help the business. Onboarding is much more than forms automation. That’s why when we demo our solutions, Human Resources gets excited.

The business trend I’m most worried about is…

Data for data’s sake. Too many organizations are collecting thousands of data points, but they’re not doing anything with it. Data is meaningless if you’re not driving action from it.

When I’m deep in software design mode I need…

Both teamwork and independence. I brainstorm ideas using a massive 4’ x 6’ whiteboard in my home office. But then I need the team to bounce my thoughts off of – there’s so much energy in a diverse room. Diversity is critical because people with various cultures and backgrounds think differently. You challenge each other’s assumptions, and that’s when you build the best solutions. When you’re in agreement all the time, you’re not disrupting.

The most important quality in technology design is… 

Staying innovative and relevant with a vision for where the industry is headed five, ten years from now.

Brenda Reid, shown with her husband of 25 years, Mark Reid, takes a break from work by traveling to satisfy her wanderlust. Image via SAP.

Work/life balance is a misnomer because…

Sometimes innovation requires all your energy. For me, it’s a pendulum that swings between staying relevant by traveling to talk with customers, or immersing myself in design and management at home. Both are equally fulfilling, and I have the flexibility to go in either direction as projects ebb and flow with software release cycles.

Being a woman in a male-dominated field can be…

Intimidating yet empowering. I regularly help male team members manage situations because I often see things differently.

My advice for young women considering a career in high tech is…

To dream big and take risks. Women tend to be too reflective and considerate of how others will feel about something we say or do.

I’m helping women by…

Volunteering at Hope House, a local organization that’s dear to my heart, in part because I was a teenage mother. It brings young moms out of poverty by teaching them how to be self-sufficient. But I also wanted to disrupt what I saw as girls taking traditional career paths like cosmetology or dental hygienist. So under the moniker of “Cool Careers,” a group of us women from SAP meet monthly to discuss what we do, and how we’ve built our careers in high technology. When I stand up and say there was a time when I couldn’t afford food, and now I’m a Vice President of a worldwide software company, it’s very powerful. We’re showing these young girls that there’s an achievable future with opportunities beyond traditional cultural norms.

My biggest career achievement so far has been…

Launching SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding. It’s had tremendous success even beyond our initial projections.

The single biggest professional influence on my career has been…

An insightful, compassionate woman mentor who saw potential in me that I didn’t see.

Working for a global organization has given me…

An insatiable case of wanderlust. I relax by traveling, hiking, and doing yoga. My husband and I just bought a Jeep, and we do a lot of 4-wheel driving and camping.

Read more from the series: Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP.

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