SAP has celebrated its first graduating cohort of the SAP Academy for Engineering. Made up equally of women and men and coming from five SAP Labs locations worldwide, the diverse group participated in an immersive learning experience that took place both in Silicon Valley and the engineers’ home locations.
The program was launched in October 2019 with the aim of re-connecting SAP to its engineering roots and inspiring its software development community to innovate organically, while also helping to attract the best engineering talent. For Ferose VR, head of SAP Academy for Engineering, it was clear that a new training concept was needed to achieve these goals.
Ferose drew on his previous experience as managing director of SAP Labs India and head of the Globalization Services organization at SAP, where he placed a strong focus on trying new ways of doing things. “We are aiming to create a social movement that generates a ripple effect across all of SAP,” he says.
Supported by SAP CEO Christian Klein and Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE leading SAP Product Engineering, the new program is based on the multiplicative power of its graduates to influence SAP’s 30,000-strong Development organization.
“The beauty of the SAP Academy for Engineering is its real-world learning approach,” says Saueressig. “Colleagues collaborate in building applications for real projects to develop their skills and technical abilities. This is not only an opportunity to broaden knowledge and sharpen skills, but also to experiment, explore interests, and network – all combined with an outside-in perspective from excellent partners.”
Program Spans Science, Technology, Business, and Humanities
Achieving technical skills in SAP products and technologies is only one aspect of the multi-dimensional engineer program created under Ferose’s leadership. The academy also focuses on soft skills referred to as the 5 Cs: to be courageous, practice compassion, build community, embrace a curious mindset, and go beyond code.
“The 5 Cs are key differentiators that can lead the multi-dimensional engineers to become better coders, leaders, and innovators,” Ferose says.
Instead of hiring a large core team, the program draws on the extensive SAP ecosystem to connect participants to leaders from science, technology, business, and the humanities. During the pilot program, young engineers from Brazil, Canada, China, India, and the U.S. practiced compassionate communication, learned to fall in love with problems and not just solutions, and tested their courage through improv and speaker engagements. “We learned by doing,” said Berry Ban from SAP Labs China.
Opportunity to Work in Diverse Teams
For many of the participants, the SAP Academy for Engineering was the first time they had traveled outside their home country. Presented with the opportunity to work face-to-face with engineers from different cultures and work styles, the engineers found ways to embrace their differences. This enabled them to realize the true power of diversity.
“Diversity helps you identify risks, have more creative ideas, and have a better image of your final customer,” said Gabriel Moita from SAP Labs Brazil.
On March 25, 2020, the program hosted its first virtual demo day, consisting of nine different teams sharing real product solutions to real-world challenges, such as electric vehicle charging, plans for the circular economy, and commissions management.
During the virtual demo day, engineers pitched and delivered their innovative applications to five global managing directors of SAP Labs, who acted as guest judges.
“From my perspective this program was a great success,” Ruicheng Li, managing director of SAP Labs China, commented. “When I met the colleagues from the academy a few months ago, I felt that they have already changed their way of thinking, from a technical perspective and a business perspective.”
“My Time at the Academy Made a Difference”
Neha Sanganeria from SAP Labs India was in the first academy class. “It makes me proud that I graduated from the SAP Academy for Engineering,” she said. “It was a fantastic journey moving from chaos toward clarity. I am much more confident and passionate about my work now. The unique approach that the program had of giving us a 360-degree view of what is happening at SAP, right from the days of SAP R/2 to the present, really helped.”
The Journey Has Only Begun
The program concluded on March 26 with a virtual closing ceremony. SAP CEO Christian Klein personally congratulated the first pilot cohort. And in his closing remarks to the graduates, Ferose said: “Communities are built on the foundation of actions. As ambassadors of the academy, it is now up to you to cultivate the engineering pride at SAP.