The world’s population has surpassed 8 billion people. As such, achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) to create a healthy planet, a world without poverty, and a just society for everyone is more important than ever. The only way forward is together, acting now.

That was also the theme for the 2022 UN International Volunteer Day, which took place December 5.

More than 1 billion people around the world are giving their time and expertise to causes that matter to them. Over 20,000 SAP colleagues are part of this incredible group that is changing the world for the better by volunteering to alleviate poverty, solve for climate action, create equitable access to education and employment, and lead through action.

Recently, SAP rolled out a new leadership credo: “Do what’s right. Make SAP better for generations to come.” In practice, that means investing in leadership development offerings that help leaders gain competency to be more agile, inclusive, and bring the SAP strategy — to help every business become an intelligent, sustainable enterprise — to life.

At SAP, volunteer leaders within the community exemplify this leadership credo, making an impact toward a more equitable world. We hope their stories inspire, spark action, and inspire gratitude.

Meet Christopher Ehmcke

Christopher Ehmcke works as global escalation manager in the Mission-Critical Support group at SAP. In his free time, he is a coach and mentor, supporting multiple pro bono consulting programs.

When asked if he saw himself as a leader, his response was: “Leadership for me is not a state you define for yourself; it is about the values and principles that guide you and the characteristics you aspire to demonstrate with the goal of bringing out the best in those around you.”

It is clear that what sets Ehmcke apart is his adaptability and agility.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether somebody calls me a leader or not. What matters is that I create positive impact for others. If I see that they are able to succeed and leverage their potential to bring out more good in themselves or others, then I have succeeded.”

— Christopher Ehmcke

Ehmcke’s impact journey began with his family. Growing up, his parents ensured he understood and valued inclusion and cultural competency. He recollected his first meaningful volunteer experience building affordable houses in Tijuana, Mexico. “What was fascinating was not just the experience of building the house together, but there was also the immigration challenge, the North America Free Trade Agreement, and the resulting economic challenges at the time. It was an opportunity to learn and understand.”

Experiences like this planted a seed that continues to be woven into his life today.

Christopher Ehmcke and CHORD colleagues
Christopher Ehmcke and his colleague at CHORD in 2019

In 2019, Ehmcke applied and was selected for the SAP Social Sabbatical for global engagement. The program empowers SAP employees to share their knowledge and expertise with nonprofits and social enterprises around the world, which in turn, hones their leadership skills.

Ehmcke traveled to Hyderabad, India, alongside 11 colleagues he had never met before. His team worked with Child Welfare and Holistic Organization for Rural Development (CHORD), an organization that educates and empowers children in difficult circumstances to create a scalable and sustainable strategy that other entrepreneurs can replicate in their communities.

Thriving in this immersive pro bono consulting experience put his resiliency and adaptability to the test. It challenged Ehmcke to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and turn setbacks into opportunities. “The program takes going outside of your comfort zone to a new level,” he said. “Multiple factors changed at once: people, processes, technology, culture, environment, and the focus on positive human and environmental impact.”

Ambiguity in these pro bono consulting challenges accelerates growth supporting learning and leadership development.

At SAP, Ehmcke leads his peers to create sustainable impact of their own. Recently, he united the SAP Mission Control Center team in a pro bono consulting challenge as a team-building activity. Together with Buy Social USA, they ideated ways to democratize supply chain access for social enterprises.

Ehmcke also mentors SAP employees as they prepare for their own SAP Social Sabbatical programs and works with social enterprises as a pro bono consultant, mentor, and coach through two additional SAP programs, Pro Bono for Economic Equity and the TRANSFORM Support Hub. He supported Boxtribute, a nonprofit partner and open-sourced technology platform delivering humanitarian aid quickly and fairly. As a coach, he supported their efforts to combat the growing refugee crisis. Ehmcke ensures that social businesses can leverage support from pro-bono experts so they can focus on scaling their world-changing solutions.

“I realized that while my original motivation was to pay it forward by serving others, I get much more back in return — the opportunity to contribute to making this world a better place, to learn and to grow as a result.”

In leadership, like in volunteering, agility and adaptability comes from actively listening with empathy, being open to learning, and finding ways to provide value, inspire, and empower others.

Together Act Now

With a decade of success engaging employees like Christopher Ehmcke worldwide, SAP, together with EY, MovingWorlds, TRANSFORM, and Unilever, partnered to launch the TRANSFORM Support Hub, helping employees everywhere connect to social enterprises anywhere through pro bono consulting, coaching, and more.

If you feel inspired to build a more sustainable world, we invite you to join us here.