Women in Technology at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg

A new internal event series on women in technology kicked off at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg in June 2017.


Creative and supportive, with a high level of social sensitivity as well as strong communication skills: Women are a key ingredient to run the world effectively. These attributes apply to business and especially to technology. With diverse innate abilities, women not only contribute to a balanced, holistic approach to business today, they also foster innovation and allow business to grow.

History has shown that women have had to face many challenges through the ages. They kept fighting for their rights and held their opposition to discouragement. It was a long journey of hard work to get where we are today. The momentum is in full effect, and SAP does not want this development to stand still now.

Women in Technology: Start Making an Impact

Following this mission, a new internal series of events about women in technology at SAP kicked off at the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg in June. The series’ aim is to create a platform within SAP that provides the opportunity to network in an atmosphere that fosters open discussions as well as creativity. The event’s format consists of breakout sessions running in parallel, enabling participants to express opinions within groups to share insights and inspire each other.

The first event was organized to exchange ideas and opinions on the topic the “Future of Work.” Interesting questions such as “How are women shaping the technology workplaces of the future?” and “What must we do to ensure our workplaces attract and retain great female technical talents?” were discussed.


Seventy ambitious women from different areas of SAP came together, highly motivated to make an impact that matters. After being briefed on the event format, the participants were welcomed by Eva Zauke, vice president of IoT & Digital Supply Chain at SAP. Zauke pointed out the enrichment women constitute for technology and why for them it is important to always communicate about who they are and what they do. Inspired by those thoughts, participants started active discussions within breakout sessions and in the end came up with great conclusions and ideas. In the first event of the series, participants were offered three different breakout session topics:

  • Future of Work – the Human Side of Digital Transformation,  led by Sarah Traeutlein, product specialist and executive assistant at Innovation Center Network – Future of Work at SAP
  • Get Inspired by the Intrapreneurship Program, led by Josefine Harzmann, developer at Ruum by SAP
  • Turn up the Wolume – Increase Your Influence with Social Media, led by Malin Liden, senior manager, Digital Marketing, at SAP

The Future of Work Is Now

When Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, launched the company’s sustainable living plan – a program that, among others, aimed to double sales while halving the environmental impact of the company’s products – in November 2010, people doubted it was possible to combine profitability with environmental and social goals. However, he succeeded and outperformed the competition today. Following this example brings along new challenges and requires change – change in thinking, decision making, leadership, organizational structures, paradigms, and much more.

In this context, diversity plays a key role as well. The question the participants dealt with within this breakout session was “To what extent and how diversity affects the future of work and what chances and risks might arise in that regard?” The active participation in this discussion and the drive by which ideas and insights were shared was eye opening. Sarah, who led this session, is still impressed by the passion of the team members and therefore is convinced that when there is a real purpose in a company, you will manage to reach your goals. What is certain as of now is that there is a lot more to discover in the area of future of work and many projects and challenges await us.

Only 15 Percent of Tech Startup Founders Are Female

Globally, only 15 percent of tech startup founders are female, and the percentage is even lower in Germany. Meanwhile, Bloomberg states that female-funded or female-led companies achieve an ROI that on average is 35 percent higher than that of companies led by men. But what is it that prevents young talented women from accepting this kind of challenge and becoming a founder? What can we do to overcome the current obstacles?

Josefine, who led this breakout session can provide experiences and insights on that; she successfully participated in SAP’s intrapreneurship program, which helps passionate and creative entrepreneurs with a powerful vision to build a game-changing startup inside of SAP. Under her influence, the project Ruum emerged, which aims to change the way we work.

The combination of knowledge, practical experience, and vision within this breakout sessions enabled the team to come up with new findings and ideas to shape the future. One of the many key messages that arose was that there is no need to have a fully worked out business plan when it comes to founding a startup. Have the idea is enough at the beginning — the rest will naturally follow step by step. Be brave and follow your path to make the startup scene more female.

A Lion Needs No Introduction in the Jungle

And while a lion needs no introduction in the jungle, you do need one in business. And no one is going to do this for you; you have to become active yourself.

Women in technology have so much expertise and knowledge to share. But they are still underrepresented at conferences, in panels and interviews, and in other places where people share their knowledge in public. Is it because they are perceived as knowing less or are less inclined to contribute? Absolutely not.

What women need is more visibility. So, turn up the volume and make sure you are seen and heard. According to a saying, if a door is locked, you have to look for the window to climb through. One window is social media. You don’t need an invitation to get access to platforms that allow you to shine the light on your expertise – pave the way yourself and create your brand using social media. Malin, the lead of this breakout session, states this in her must-read blog article, Speaking up is a responsibility – Turn up the volume!

By sharing and engaging publicly, we become visible role models for other women, for younger students, and professionals who are considering a career in technology. By making yourself visible, you therefore not only push your career but also contribute to strengthening the female community in technology. And this is how we can drive change in technology as well as in other industries.

Within this breakout session, the members discussed interactively how to leverage their visibility through cross-linking, what is important when blogging, and on which channels to position articles and thoughts in order to reach the most effective audience. In the end, the breakout session group came up with many valuable insights and recommendations. One was to focus efforts to have a clear message and build up a strong brand. It also includes sharing content more consciously – don’t spam by lazily re-tweeting content or using empty phrases; provide your audience with an added value that at the same time shapes your brand.

Successful Start of an Impactful Event Series

Participants left the SAP AppHaus more confident with a stronger willingness to shape the future of work. Inspired by female role models such as Sinead Kaiya, COO of Products & Innovation at SAP, who is very active and passionate about the topic women in technology, the attendees have a clear mission to follow now. They can stand up, be proud, raise voices to be visible, and get credit for what they do.

SAP recently announced that it has reached its goal to increase the number of women in management positions from 18 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2017. This is a great success showing us that it is worth standing up for this topic and making the female community in tech more visible.

What is your company doing to strengthen the influence and visibility of women? Join us in our mission and share your experiences and thoughts on this. Together we can make a difference that matters.

Follow @SAP_WomenInTech and @SAPAppHaus on Twitter, and on Facebook at facebook.com/AppHausHD

This story originally appeared on the SAP User Experience website.