Soccer team in a huddle

Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Catalina Manrique

October 25, 2016 by Susan Galer 107

Catalina Manrique, general manager at SAP Ariba in Latin America, took an unusual route to her career in high technology, from working in a hospital as a clinical psychologist preparing young children for heart surgery to senior-level management at a global company.

Catalina Manrique, GM at SAP Ariba

Manrique, GM at SAP Ariba in Latin America, took an unusual career route from healthcare to high tech leadership. Image via SAP.

Although born, raised, and still residing in Colombia, Manrique’s heritage is also half Belgian, providing her with a wider perspective she’s found valuable as a senior leader in a European-based organization.

Spurred to change careers after getting a divorce, Manrique earned her MBA, and followed the advice of a mentor who suggested she look into the many opportunities at SAP. Manrique joined the company 12 years ago, first as a solution specialist for human capital management (HCM), followed by successively expanded roles in regional presales and sales, including the company’s world-class design thinking methodology.

In this exclusive interview with SAP News, Manrique talks about why she considers it a privilege to work at SAP, what it takes to be a single mother raising a son, and why she’s so excited about technology’s fantastic impact on our lives.

Human capital management at SAP was a natural place for me to…

Start my high tech career given my background and longtime dream of working to help people.

The IT learning curve was a little overwhelming until…

I quickly understood the role technology has in changing people’s lives. In presales and design thinking you get into the storyline about how our technology transforms everything. That’s the part of technology I really love!

Managing the design thinking team was…

Super fun, working directly to help change the DNA in our pre-sales and sales teams.

We aren’t born with strong resilience, but…

Gain it by experiencing and overcoming challenges. I learned as a young girl that nothing in life is impossible when you have goals, and are accountable for making your own career decisions.

Keeping my priorities clear and putting my family first have helped me…

Reach the position I’m in today. It’s not easy raising a child alone, and my 20-year old son, who I’m very proud of, is proof that I’ve been able to stay balanced between work and life.

For one of my positions at SAP I was…

Selected out of 19 other applicants despite having less experience because I demonstrated my passion and drive to every decision-maker throughout the interview process.

My advice to the women I mentor is to…

Be assertive and stretch yourself. You don’t have to wait for every variable to be covered. Decide what you want and put yourself out there.

Being in a leadership role at SAP gives me the freedom to… 

Make decisions for my team, including how we articulate our value proposition to customers by trying completely new approaches like social selling.

I define success by…

The goals we set, legacy we leave, and happiness we achieve.

The most inspirational part of my career so far has been…

Working at SAP Ariba, which operates like a startup in these developing countries.

One of the greatest sources of happiness in my life is…

Giving back to people in need through a faith-based, women’s social services program.

My biggest career achievement so far has been…

Having the privilege of running SAP Ariba. My combined skills — understanding how both the region and a global organization operate — have prepared me for this honor. There are always challenges. It’s not about what happened yesterday, but what comes next. We are making success happen.

Customer satisfaction is…

Paramount in a cloud-based world because renewals are everything. We focus on making customers happy.

The business trend I’m most excited about is…

The digital transformation of procurement. We’re helping customers understand how our innovations make procurement strategic to their business. As the trusted advisor taking customers to cloud computing, we have the opportunity to impact people, industry and all of society.

You need to feel passion for…

What you’re doing for work – that it’s good for the world.

Two of the most influential roles models in my life have been…

Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Ariba, and Dianne Fanelli, senior vice president and COO at SAP. I’ve learned so much from both of them about being customer-focused and action-oriented, taking the simplest, practical path forward.

I stay balanced by…

Praying every day – my spirituality is very important. I also do crossfit or running, which keep me relaxed.

Follow me: @smgaler

Top image via Shutterstock

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply