To SAP employee Sriharsha GN, the performing arts is a very human answer to the modern challenges facing his native Bangalore.

To make it perfectly clear, Sriharsha is not a technophobe, nor is he interested in turning the clock back on his native Bangalore. He and his family have benefited from its growth, from quaint provincial village to mega-IT-city counting nearly nine million citizens.

But while the economic policies of the present government have generated ever greater demand for India’s services around the world, the citizens have been left to deal with the details. Bangalore’s infrastructure is buckling under the pressure as migrants continue flock to the city in search of better lives.

By day, Sriharsha GN is a technical consultant to the solution partners of enterprise software giant SAP, helping them get their solutions integrated and certified to interoperate with SAP’s business software. It’s a challenging job conducted across many time zones without the benefit of face-to-face contact.

Time management is a critical part of supporting partners around the globe. What Sriharsha appreciates most about his eight years at SAP has been the freedom the company offers, particularly to schedule his own time. “I get to take my own decisions, I have the trust of my colleagues and management, and most importantly I can manage my time the way I want to,” he says.

Coming to terms with the change to his native town has been a process for Sriharsha, one that he and a few others are responding to in a creative and unconventional way: stage acting. After the computer specialist won an award at the age of 17, his passion for performing wouldn’t let him go. Now the 31 year old regularly plans, directs and coordinates stage plays, and even writes poems and scripts.

The People Behind the Technology
//name: Sriharsha GN
//job title: Technical Consultant
//team: Partner Management
//years at SAP: 8
//SAP lab: India
//passion: Acting, directing, writing

So when his workday is over, Sriharsha is off to his next rehearsal before the crippling rush hour gridlock sets in. There Sriharsha finds just the opposite of the virtual world he experiences in the politically correct corporate environment. “We have become more comfortable in a chat window than talking to someone directly, and are losing the sensibility of how we react with real people, how to handle ourselves in real-world situations,” he explains.

Sriharsha is currently working on three different stage productions, all related to the effect of Bangalore’s transformation on the people trying to hold onto and create an existence there. “With all the benefits we have seen, many good things have disappeared,” he explains. “Our theater looks at the impact on everyday people and how it might be remedied.”In his theater group, Sriharsha meets people in the flesh who express honest emotions about nitty gritty real-world problems: “Theater is more honest than the corporate world. It enables me to express a direct response to my immediate environment – using any reaction I choose – even being rude if I want.” The benefits, he says, are manifold: “You learn how to interact and communicate with others, but you also automatically develop your empathy because it enables you to accept people for who they are.”

Stage theater plays are Sriharsha’s contribution to making sense of all the change around him, and it also serves as a platform for others think about and verbalize their own thoughts and emotions.

It shouldn’t surprise therefore that Sriharsha was also a co-founder of the first theater group at SAP Labs India, which company leaders fostered as alternative training method and a means to encourage software developers to become more effective communicators. The effects on the software engineers were transformational, according to Sriharsha.

He believes that engineers can develop their creativity and empathy levels through theater, both of which are core skills for developing great software. Sriharsha: “I think I can make the world a little bit better because of theater.”

Video: Natalie Hauck and Alex Januschke, SAP Development University