Divya is a dancer. But she’s not just someone who takes classes with her husband on Friday evenings. Divya Chandrika Mohan is an internationally recognized artist who practices the ancient Indian classical art form of Bharatanatyam.
She started dancing at the age of five and was considered a child prodigy in her native India. Everything she did came easily to her: dance, school, her master’s degree in banking. At 22 she became the youngest branch manager to head a CitiFinancial branch in Mumbai. “All I had experienced in my life was success and accolades. It felt like the movies,” she says.
Then, about 10 years ago, her husband received an offer to work for SAP in Germany. Divya agreed to the move without hesitation. In her childhood, her family had moved every two or three years because of her father’s job. “Exploring something unknown has always been very exciting for me. This is part of my personality,” says Divya.
Video produced by Natalie Hauck and Alexander Januschke
Never Give Up
But Germany was a different space. Divya didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language at first. “I wanted to adapt to my new environment and also make sure my toddler felt comfortable and could make friends.” Divya had become a mother in 2009 and wanted to be with her child completely in the first years of his life, enjoying every single milestone.
But when her son started going to kindergarten, Divya faced the toughest time of her life. The former child prodigy, the dancer, the successful banker felt, “I couldn’t just be home, I had more energy to give.” A piece of advice from her mother helped her come out of it. “It will feel cold when you’re thrown into it, just stick around there, take it as a challenge.” Determined to teach Indian dance, she navigated her way through the German bureaucratic maze to understand what was required to work as a freelance dance teacher. But she didn’t give up. She’s now been teaching classical Indian dance to local students for over 10 years.
Trying to get back into her career in banking also felt like swimming upstream. Rejection letters became a very common thing for her. “I had to face that moment when I was going through failure at a rate that I had never known before, when I was being judged for what I was not, when I didn’t have a place to prove myself. This has given me so much empathy that I can really relate to people who are going through it,” she says.
Learning Was a Constant
Divya has been a permanent employee at SAP since 2019 and now works as a product manager in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud area. Part of her job is to educate customers, partners, and internal colleagues on the value of SAP S/4HANA Cloud. She has also recently started working on the product strategy side. “Of course, I do need to understand the technology to be able to sell the value, but not having an engineering background should never be a showstopper.”
Bringing Empathy to Work
Divya’s art form, Bharatanatyam, represents nine basic emotions. The dancer’s role is to observe, understand, and explore every single layer of these emotions. For Divya, this is her bridge between the creative and the corporate worlds. “Bringing empathy and emotion to work – or, as we say at SAP, helping the world run better and improving people’s lives – that’s exactly the strength I bring,” she says. In conversations, she always tries to put herself in the shoes of customers or colleagues. “It’s about showing the customer that you care. Most customers don’t leave a supplier because of the product itself, but because they’re feeling they are not being cared for enough.”
As in her art, she plays many roles in life. She’s a product manager, an artist, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and a daughter. “And I feel that amidst all this, I’m still Divya,” she says. “I have this innate happiness within me that forms the core of what I am. And that’s helped go through the storm or calm. It’s this small little quotient of bliss that I have that’s always been my essence.”
SAP Women in Technology
“As a woman working for SAP, you are a ‘woman in tech,’ regardless of what you have studied or graduated in,” says Christine Regitz, head of the company’s global initiative, SAP Women in Tech. The new Women in Tech series covers the successes and opportunities woman have had and the clichés and challenges they’ve encountered. Some entered the IT industry after studying computer science, others via very different routes. Let their stories inspire you!