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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Zeynep Keskin

June 22, 2016 by Susan Galer 93

Zeynep Keskin, Managing Director at SAP in Turkey, had the value of leadership and her ability to lead instilled in her from a very early age.

She grew up in Turkey surrounded by a large, loving family of primarily women – one sister and numerous cousins — where she attended what was at the time an all-girls American high school.

After completing her undergraduate degree in Turkey, Keskin traveled to the United States where she decided on a multinational corporate career after receiving her MBA from Loyola University in New Orleans. Before joining SAP, Keskin honed her powerhouse sales and management acumen at several leading IT companies. In this exclusive interview with SAP News, Keskin shares how she stays fresh in a fast-paced world, why she believes women have some natural advantages in business, and how everyone can attract more women to the IT industry.

One of my biggest inspirations has been…

The women in my family, who have always been recognized as more than equal.

Going to an all-girls school helped…

Shape my vision, personality and career ambition to lead at a large company because all of us – teachers and classmates — had the expectation of being leaders in the workplace and society.

I knew a career at a multi-national company was the best choice for me when… 

I broadened my cultural horizons traveling to the United States at 22 years old to study for my MBA.

My first experience with technology was… 

When self-service banking emerged, selling ATMs in Turkey, which I could see changing the lives of everyday people for a positive impact.

I was attracted to a career in high technology because… 

Being exposed to so many exciting and evolving companies and other industries keeps me young, agile and always up-to-speed.

I feel privileged to be a country manager at SAP because it gives me the opportunity to…

Help change people’s lives. It’s motivating to connect the value of the technology to consumers in every part of society.

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

Be totally comfortable with never-ending learning, interacting with people in real life, and having empathy for others.

Women have some advantages in business because…

It’s much easier for us to empathize with others. It’s in our nature to be intuitive and interactive.

Women have an advantage in business because it’s much easier for us to empathize with others.

Working at SAP gives me the freedom to…

Take the initiative while being part of a global company. When you add value, you feel that you’re making a difference and you know that you’re being heard.

The business trend I’m most excited about is… 

Digital transformation because it’s a major opportunity for Turkey. With the right skills set, the motivation to innovate, and the capability to imagine, it will be easier for businesses in Turkey to excel in this era.

Zeynep Keskin, Managing Director at SAP in Turkey, appreciates having the freedom to take the initiative while being part of a global company.

Zeynep Keskin, Managing Director at SAP in Turkey, appreciates having the freedom to take the initiative while being part of a global company.

Business can attract more women to high tech industry if…

Every sector takes diversity more seriously, including the private sector, sports, entertainment and politics. I’m convinced if we had more women in political leadership positions, it would be a more peaceful world. It also goes back to women themselves, and how we raise our children. My two sons who are now grown, have always seen a working woman at home, and were brought up to respect women.

My dream assignment is…

To expand my multinational role, managing multiple countries at SAP.

I’m helping women achieve their dreams with…

My involvement in a number of global women’s leadership communities, including programs in Turkey training female executives to become Board members, and Young Guru Academy (YGA), providing leadership training for high school and university-level students.

One of the most influential role models in my life was…

My older cousin, who motivated me during family gatherings with her mesmerizing conversations about her senior position in the financial industry. She make me realize the importance of working at a place you believe in. It’s similar to what my sons hear from me about working at SAP.

I get recharged by… 

Going to the office. Admittedly, I need to get better at relaxing outside of work. That said, this is the third year in a row that SAP Turkey received a top ranking in Great Place To Work. Teamwork in this industry involves the ability to take on new roles all the time, being adaptable. I’m very proud of our team, which is filled with young, talented people who do this every day.

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

Follow me @smgaler

Images via SAP

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