The complex relationship between mentorship and equality in the workplace is a favored topic at purpose-driven companies. Greta Krupetsky, a veteran in software sales and the leader of the Global Strategic Segments organization at SAP, made a personal commitment early in her career to help drive positive change in this area.

“My goal is to promote 100 women before I retire,” she says with a smile. “All I ask in return is that each woman promotes another 100. I’m at number 78 now.”

Krupetsky’s advocacy for equity and inclusion stems from her professional and personal experiences. As someone who always loved technology, she was often one of the few women in the field. At first, she brought a carefully curated version of herself to work – dressing ultra-conservatively and never discussing her personal life. Eventually however, she realized that authenticity is key to getting a seat at the table, so she united the two personas and went on to become a leader in this area.

Krupetsky strongly believes the technology industry holds significant potential to foster positive change because it’s naturally innovative. “Technology is all around us, so it would seem natural for young people to gravitate towards it. What other industry is evolving so fast, in so many exciting ways?” she asks. “Technology is enabling us to accelerate change in ways that impact everyone globally, from climate change to diversity in the workplace. It is the platform to transform the world.”

Krupetsky’s ability to tackle challenges and inspire others isn’t a random occurrence. At age ten, she left her native Ukraine when her parents decided to seek a better life in the United States. At that time Ukraine was part of the former USSR; her father was an accountant, her mother a professor. Things changed when they arrived in the U.S.

In the new world, her mother worked as a housekeeper, while her father studied to remake himself professionally. The recurring motto of her youth was education, education, education. These experiences instilled in her the value of hard work and determination and helped pave the way for her to become a change agent at companies, including Oracle and SAP, in their significant transformative journeys.

Finding the Right Skill Set

For Krupetsky, as head of Global Strategic Segments at SAP, the most important transformational journeys occur when customers digitalize their business. As the chief digital officer of Phillips 66 said in a recent interview, “We’re not transforming because we have a burning IT platform. We’re transforming because we have a burning desire.”

People who instinctively understand this sentiment are the kind of people Krupetsky wants on her team. Krupetsky was head of the team’s North American business for five years before becoming the global head earlier this year. Phillips 66, the energy giant with over US$100 billion in annual revenue, is a member of SAP Strategic Customer Program and incorporates everything Krupetsky’s organization strives to help customers achieve.

“Our goal is to deliver constant business value for almost 200 strategic customers, and we accomplish that by building bi-directional engagement models,” she explains. “First, we have to understand their business goals and strategies, and then we identify how SAP can help them reach their end-state vision.”

One of her first tasks was to instill a key foundational principle: Clients choose to work with innovation partners that understand their business and provide exceptional value.

In order to deliver on clients’ needs, she needed people who could develop durable relationships, speak the industry language, thoroughly understand technology, and lead large account teams in delivering bi-directional road maps. Krupetsky believes it takes three to five years to really know a client, so she pursued those who could think big for the long term and could engage in meaningful conversations at the C-level. Only by managing the entire life cycle of the client can SAP deliver true business value.

After early success with this strategy, Krupetsky has invested relentlessly in furthering its adoption within the organizations she manages at SAP. In the past, most clients considered SAP as their back-office enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendor; now, they view SAP as a strategic innovation partner that fundamentally understands their goals and can help them achieve their targets over a multiyear journey.

“We were able to turn the tide by creating a shift toward greater customer intimacy, pivoting from a transactional business relationship to providing meaningful guidance in a high-touch mode,” she says.

Driving Industry-Defining Innovation

More importantly, clients see tremendous outcomes. With the help of the Global Strategic Segments organization at SAP, they can develop the necessary resilience to not only withstand fluctuations, but learn and thrive in the process.

Take the example of Phillips 66. The company began its digital transformation in 2017, just as the oil and gas industry was recovering from the downturn in previous years. It was the perfect time to invest in new enterprise-wide technology to differentiate itself from rivals. Among other changes, Phillips 66 tapped SAP as a strategic innovation partner, working to create an industry-standard platform built on SAP S/4HANA that has helped the energy leader extract unprecedented value from its hydrocarbon operations and identify cost savings amid today’s pandemic-induced challenges.

The entire sector is under enormous pressure because the coronavirus pandemic has eroded demand and oil prices have fallen. The fact that Phillips 66 is continuing its transformation effort and its significant investment during the ongoing economic turbulence underscores just how important IT modernization initiatives are to the future of the company.

“Phillips 66 is building a system with SAP that may well become the standard across the oil and gas sector and is banking on the advantage of being an early adopter,” Krupetsky explains. Such a standard is an example of the industry-defining innovation resulting from the strategic, two-way relationship between SAP and Phillips 66.

Phillips 66’s strategic investments are designed to ensure that the company emerges from the current crisis stronger than ever, but it is already seeing some benefits. Its transformation initiatives are driving value despite an especially challenging time brought on by the pandemic – be it improving profit margins, reducing operational costs, or avoiding unnecessary expenditures.

Digital transformation is a big job that requires a certain skill set. To be successful, people need mentors and visionary leaders, like Krupetsky, in addition to their own natural talent and customer-focused mindset. While education may have been her childhood motto, when it comes to leading Global Strategic Segments at SAP her winning formula is to understand the client’s business and provide exceptional value. That’s how she and her team support every customer’s innovation journey.

The Path Forward is a series featuring trailblazing women in leadership and their inspiring insights and experiences.

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