Earlier this month, Jill Popelka was named president of SAP SuccessFactors. As a seasoned business leader, Popelka is stepping into this new role with an expertise in the human resources (HR) technology space, a passion for using technology to solve the most pressing workforce challenges, and a keen focus on delivering customer success.
She previously held global leadership roles within SAP SuccessFactors as chief operating officer (COO) and head of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ).
I spoke to her about her vision for the SAP SuccessFactors business and what the future holds for human experience management (HXM).
Q: SAP SuccessFactors made a bold move last year to launch a new industry category: HXM. What does this mean for the future of human capital management (HCM) software and, most importantly, what does this mean for our customers and their people?
A: Last year, we launched this exciting new category — HXM, or human experience management. This is a far cry from HCM, which focused on employees as an asset, as capital. HXM gives businesses a new opportunity. First of all, to allow HR to really lead and have an impact on business results. Secondly, it allows business to really connect with their employees and drive purpose and passion in the people responsible for driving business outcomes. As I walk into this role, I am so excited about where this business has been and where we’re going.
Before you accepted the role as COO for SAP SuccessFactors, you spent three years leading the Sales organization for the APJ region, based in Singapore. What are some of the biggest lessons you took away from that experience?
Prior to my role as COO of SAP SuccessFactors, I was leading our business in Asia Pacific and Japan. It’s an incredible region with amazing growth and terrific customers.
Some of the challenges we face there include the productivity challenge in Japan. As the nation has plateaued in population growth, they’ve got an issue with ensuring that they get the greatest productivity from their population to grow their GDP. We’re also working with customers in South Korea to ensure compliance and that they’re compliant with a 52-hour workweek, which is really challenging in Asian markets when people are working day and night. And of course, in India, where human connection is key and everything is all about the employee experience.
You’ve just taken on the role as president for SAP SuccessFactors. What’s the plan for taking HXM to new heights?
SAP SuccessFactors has more than 7,000 customers globally with extremely strong presence in every region. Additionally, we’ve got 150 million users. As we move forward into this new employee experience world, I can’t wait to see where we go from here. I can’t wait to tell all of our customers about the great value they can achieve with our solution, and I can’t wait to be on this journey with you.
What’s the opportunity with the Intelligent Enterprise for SAP SuccessFactors customers?
Recently, SAP kicked off its next chapter – an alignment of our organization around six key solution areas. Ours, of course, is people. It includes all of our solutions that relate to people, with SAP SuccessFactors being the primary area. We’re very excited about aligning to these other solution areas to deliver on SAP’s promise of the Intelligent Enterprise. We’ll be working with other solution areas, such as Customer Experience and Intelligent Spend, to ensure that we’re integrated — not only when delivering our own HR industry story, but across the entire SAP business.
One more question, and it’s a softball: Where do you find inspiration?
I truly value human connection. It drives this world. In addition to that, I love a good adventure. So recently, I climbed Kilimanjaro. I connected really well with a team that helped me get to the top of that mountain. I recognize that that’s what we’re doing every day. We’re connecting with each other to achieve these goals. I look forward to working with you. I hope we can all climb that mountain together. I look forward to the collaboration as we move forward.