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Power2XLead: Women Leaders at SAP Germany

April 14, 2017 by Rebecca Hambsch

Last year, SAP Germany launched the Power2XLead program for aspiring female leaders. Here, three participants talk about their experiences.

When it comes to the number of women in management, SAP has already achieved a lot. In 2011, the figure was 18% and with the latest result of 24.5%, the company is fast approaching its own global target for 2017 – for women to hold 25% of managerial positions. But the figures show there is still room for improvement in Germany.


Women in Management at SAP

  • 2016: 24.5% female managers for SAP global
  • 2016: 16.6% female managers at SAP Deutschland
  • Global target 2017:  25% female managers

For this reason, SAP Germany decided to sponsor the Power2XLead program and make use of the huge potential of the future generation of female managers.

“Through the Power2XLead program, we have created a pool of aspiring female leaders, and already five of our participants have taken on a managerial position,” reports Cawa Younosi, HR director for Germany, who first identified this need, and then launched the program together with Harry Thomsen, managing director for SAP Deutschland, in October 2016.

The program received a very positive response from all 34 participants. Here, three of them talk about what motivated them to get involved and what they have gained from the program. One of the most significant insights was having confidence in yourself, and in your own performance. Marielle Ehrmann, Iris Müller, and Gabriele Görtz discuss their experiences and share some tips.

“Equal opportunities means that everyone is treated the same.”

Marielle Ehrmann

It was curiosity that first prompted Marielle to apply for the Power2XLead program, yet becoming a manager after completing the program was not a necessary outcome for her.

“I wanted to know how SAP is actively working to enhance women’s careers, and how the concept of equal opportunities, which sounds simple in theory, is actually being implemented.” Marielle’s conclusion: “Equal opportunities means that everyone is treated the same. And this doesn’t mean that women should suddenly receive preferential treatment. No one wants to be known as a quota woman. We want to be given a managerial position because we are the best possible candidate.”

Now an executive director in Integrated Quality & Services, Marielle experienced her greatest light-bulb moment when management coach Melissa Lamson spoke to the women at the kick-off event: “If you really want something, just go out and get it. It’s never going to come to you unless you ask for it.”

Marielle availed herself to the work-related training courses, workshops, and presentations to get to know female colleagues from various other departments, and put aside her uncertainties: “Their inhibitions about interacting with managers radically reduced by the end of the course. You could really see a difference.”

For colleagues looking to take on a managerial position, Marielle has the following advice: “Choose your boss wisely – find someone who will always trust you 10 percent more than you trust yourself. Someone who will give you freedom to realize your own ideas, who challenges you, but also gives you support.”

 “Taking on a management role doesn’t have to be a life-changing decision.”

Iris Müller

Five years ago, Iris was managing a team of 12 people in Global Mobility. Following the birth of her son in 2014, she took on an 80 percent part-time expert role. After hearing about the Power2XLead program it was clear for her that her next career step would be another managerial position.

“Taking on a management role doesn’t have to be a life-changing decision,” says Iris. “Many women shy away from new, uncertain challenges. They worry about failing. We should have more confidence in ourselves. Modesty isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

“We were a real mixed bunch,” said Iris, “All with unique characteristics and individualities, yet we still shared the same vision: To become managers.” Many roads lead to Rome.

“You can be a mum and pursue your career goals.”

A jam-packed day is nothing new for Gabriele Görtz, mother of three sons and, as of late, manager of a 12-member team within partner organization for SAP Deutschland. Gabriele is a pioneer of the part-time leadership concept (75 percent), and prepared for her managerial position by successfully completing the Power2XLead program.

“I lead my team according to the mantra ‘walk the talk.’ If you have a vision, you also have to live it. In my capacity as coach to my employees, I want to give them the opportunity to shine.” For Gabriele, this is the definition of effective management. “Management requires time, and time is always a critical factor, particularly for those who work part time. As a manager, I have time consciously take time for my employees in the same way I take time for my family.”

Gabriele Görtz

One important discovery that Gabriele Görtz made at Power2XLead is the importance of shaping your own career path, and having the confidence to take control. Another thing is particularly important for Gabriele: “I make a conscious effort to enjoy my own private time without constantly checking my phone. I make time for my family every day, and I enjoy it.”

Her advice to all mothers is therefore: “Dare to go your own way. No one can shape your career for you, it’s down to you. Always keep your eyes and ears open.”

“Aspiring Leaders” Program to Follow

Having successfully completed the German Power2XLead program on January 30, five of the 34 participants have already made it to management level. The successful initiative is also set to be rolled out internationally, including in India. And the follow-up program “Aspiring Leaders” is already set for launch in Germany, and will also cater to male employees who aspire to become managers.

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