Spotlight on Women at SAP: Erika Takahashi

Erika Takahashi graduated from the SAP Academy for Sales in 2016 and has not looked back.

Erika completed her Political Science degree at UCLA in the United States and her studies also took her to Cuba and Italy, where she studied foreign affairs and art history. Erika joined SAP in 2015 and found the SAP Academy program a unique opportunity to drive her career in the sales direction. After completing the academy, she joined the SAP SuccessFactors team in Japan.

Working at SAP…

Gives me the freedom to take chances and embrace mistakes. I appreciate the people who coach and support me to stay accountable to opportunities. What’s amazing about SAP is the power of the virtual account team. There are so many professional people with different roles who can support you through various sales cycles. It is such a pleasure to engage all team members and aim for success together.

One of the things I love most about my job is…

Having a strong manager who trusts me and having flexibility to perform my role. The people-centric nature of my role is also motivating and something I enjoy. In addition, SAP provides me with equal opportunities to perform and deliver despite me being fairly young in sales. The team environment is also very supportive and collaborative.

The business trend I’m most excited about is…

Artificial intelligence and the impact it can have on our business overall — it opens many opportunities.

Sales is an excellent career for young women because…

It is a performance-driven role. Although it can be very tough at most times, everyone has equal opportunities to be successful in sales regardless of age or gender. Being a woman in a male-dominated field can be enjoyable. Sometimes men and women think differently and you might be the only one in the room who can bring up different perspectives and ideas to challenging situations.

Women have advantages in business because…

I believe that women are naturally good at leading with empathy. I mainly focus on seeking feedback and listening to my customers and individuals team members as much as possible to better understand challenges and clarify the barriers if there are any. I believe I can gain mutual trust in this way and make better decisions to move things forward.

One of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had in SAP has been…

Being based in Tokyo but within a global and diverse organization because it forces me to get out my comfort zone. Being exposed to different cultures and environments really opens my mind. Not only do I face this personally but it’s also great to see share similar experiences with my customers who have traveled to other countries. We discuss cultural nuances, ideal behavior, and how we can make changes to the status quo together.

Work/life balance is…

A misnomer for me because the both my work and private life garner the same amount of importance in my life. It’s not something that I intentionally try to balance. I admit I can’t help it sometimes and work takes priority, but I also know when I need to step out and take a rest. It’s more important for me to stay flexible and do my best at all times because I want every moment to be meaningful.

When I’m not working, I…

Kick back or relax by traveling with my friends or playing golf. It refreshes my mind to explore new things, share thoughts, and laugh together.