­­­­Today Anamarie Huerta Franc becomes managing director of SAP Labs in the U.S., responsible for extending the successes of SAP’s strategy in California to employees in research and development across the country.

Headshot: Anamarie Huerta FrancIn the role, Franc will prioritize building upon the foundation laid over the past year in California and further unite the research and development teams across the U.S.

“I think it is about really engaging deeply with employees and understanding what drives them both inside and outside of their careers,” she says.

Franc’s career at SAP began almost two decades ago on the Corporate Strategy team. After leaving to gain further experience in the tech industry in Silicon Valley, she returned to SAP in 2014, assuming leadership roles across development, design, and sales.

“She brings a strong strategic perspective on the market, an operator’s mindset, and a fierce dedication to this company, its employees, and our customers,” SAP Executive BOard Members Thomas Saueressig and Juergen Mueller shared in an e-mail to the SAP development community.

Most recently, Franc held the role of chief operating officer (COO) for SAP Labs in California, where she focused on motivating and connect people across different functional areas.

“This role really prepared Anamarie for her new position as managing director for SAP Labs U.S.,” says Clas Neumann, head of SAP Labs Network. “All those years of experience and the different roles she held helped her become an empathic and authentic leader paired with customer centricity in everything she does.”

Tapping into the Power of the Region

Innovation at SAP happens everywhere, reflecting the success of the SAP Labs Network of 20 development centers across 17 countries. However, the San Francisco Bay Area remains the densest hub of enterprise software innovation in the world and acts as a magnet for the most sought-after engineering talent. Through her experience working with enterprise technology and software as a service (SaaS) companies, Franc understands the strong influence Silicon Valley’s ecosystem of innovation has on the technology decisions made by global companies, particularly those based in the U.S.

“Some of our most innovative customers are based here, adopting the latest technologies and pushing the envelope the furthest from a market perspective,” she says. “If you can win in the U.S. market, you’re primed to win in any market around the world, both as a line of business and as a company.”

Cloud Mindset as Basis for Customer-Centricity

The U.S., particularly the West Coast, is home to many of the world’s leading cloud application companies along with SAP’s major acquisitions in the cloud that maintain a presence within the region — Sybase, Ariba, SuccessFactors, Concur, Callidus Cloud, Gigya, and Qualtrics. Development teams in the Bay Area are spearheading cloud-based application development and cloud-native best practices for the SAP development community. Franc says this is expected to remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Developing for customers with a cloud mindset is a clear priority for the new managing director; she is committed to ensuring the dots are connected from the end user to deep in the development organization. “To me it’s simple, but certainly not easy,” Franc says. “We need to understand our customers’ goals and what will make them successful and extend that understanding directly into every role and every function within the organization.”

The Value of Education and Mentorship

Franc is passionate about recruiting and developing young talents and has been instrumental in growing the SAP Next Talent program, an 18-month early talent rotation started on the West Coast. Under her leadership, the program tripled in size and now receives up to 12,000 applications. SAP Next Talent has developed into a high-performing, diverse, and inclusive program, with 50% women and 10% of participants from non-traditional backgrounds. At the conclusion of the program, 90% are hired as full-time employees.

Achieving a truly inclusive workplace is especially important to Franc. As the daughter of a first-generation Mexican American father, she saw firsthand the obstacles he faced and was motivated by the thirst for education that he instilled in her. Franc sees her diverse background, both personally and professionally, as a strength that allows her to evaluate situations from multiple perspectives and build bridges among employees.

Bringing Out the Best in Employees

As COO for SAP Labs in California, Franc orchestrated the launch of a new future of work pilot program that puts SAP’s new Pledge to Flex work model into practice. The seven-week program currently underway at the Palo Alto campus draws from the collective wisdom of employees to gather feedback on hybrid working arrangements.

“Bringing out the best in our 4,500 employees in ways that helps them achieve great results leads to successful teams and happy customers,” she says. Franc emphasizes the critical role played by company leaders in supporting a new balance between home and office.