Reflections from a week of insights

Last week Singapore hosted the 17th Asia Pacific Conference of German Business, marking a key opportunity to reaffirm the strong bonds forged between our region and Germany.

Key luminaries including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minster Wong highlighted how our shared values help us move forward together toward a more equitable, green, and prosperous economy.

That was underlined by German Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck’s visit to  SAP’s Singapore office, accompanied by SAP’s Chief People Officer and Member of the Executive Board, Sabine Bendiek. Over lunch,  a delegation of top CEOs from Germany and Singapore, shared their thinking around  innovation, culture, and research and development.

Looking back on the discussions and meetings we hosted, three things really stood out.

  1. We are better together

It is easy to underestimate just how important the culture of collaboration can be.

The past week  brought together diverse friends, colleagues, partners, and customers from  business and government, and from around the world. These personal connections form the basis not only of German-Singapore relations, but also a shared vision and agenda.

And that collaboration is critical to sparking new innovation in uncertain times, encouraging people and organisations to come together to try new things, develop new roles, and create new value together.

As Sabine rightly noted, digital connectivity is the foundation of innovation and a  driver for inclusive, sustainable growth  here in Asia Pacific and Japan and around the world. I  believe SAP offers the fundamental digital infrastructure that is empowering businesses and people as they  adopt the best practices of today, and become future-ready for tomorrow.

  1. Diverse, inclusive talent is the difference

The presence of our Chief People Officer also served to shine a light on diversity and inclusion as a core part of our business. The SAP I know, and love is an increasingly diverse place, with new ideas and new perspectives from people with different intersectional backgrounds, experiences, and skills. The key to becoming a resilient, adaptable, successful company will be harnessing the strength of a diverse, future-ready workforce.

But that requires new approaches to leadership too, especially in terms of creating platforms of inclusion across our organisation, which will lead to a more diverse workforce. Let’s take our Pledge to Flex initiative as an example. It’s an incredibly important part of our business that supports an inclusive culture, as it helps all our people work in the best way for them, regardless of where they are based, what their circumstances are, and how they prefer to work. But it also presents new challenges to managers to embrace and thrive in a flexible environment. I’m proud to see so many people take advantage of those opportunities, especially as it has significant effect on the wider economy.

Singapore is currently ranked the best place in the world to do business in the next five years. During the visit we heard from key local customers how talent is one of the key reasons for that incredible ranking. But maintaining that level will require a talent transformation – learning, unlearning, and relearning new skills to stay relevant as technology, best practice, and business requirements evolve. That’s why SAP has just this week pledged to boost skills in under-represented communities through free skilling offerings, including a Professional certificate program in partnership with Coursera, and why in Asia we are aiming to skill-up 1 million learners in the region by 2025!

  1. Sustainable outcomes can only be achieved together

In a week dominated by COP27 in Egypt, it was encouraging to witness the signing of the Germany-Singapore Framework for Sustainability and Innovation – an exciting step forward on our journey to strengthen collaboration between governments and businesses at all levels.

Sustainability really is a team sport – when we win in sustainability, we all win together. Industries like advanced manufacturing, green technologies, or networking benefit massively from close collaboration, business matching, and data and knowledge sharing. And by working together to create standards in areas like energy efficiency, recycling, and the circular economy, we can find common ground with global partners and support international efforts to collectively address climate and sustainability issues.

All of this relies on access to, and the best use of, data. We are in a wonderful position to help organisations across Asia boost their environmental, social, and governance activations without compromising their bottom lines. As SingTel noted, together we can do good while doing well.

As we wrap-up these visits and move fast toward the end of the year, I have again been blown away by the incredible work we can do together as we move forward. By focusing on collaboration, talent, and sustainable outcomes I really believe we can make real, tangible change for this year and those to come.